Friday, January 23, 2009

Portrait In Death

Portrait In Death is the sixteenth book in the Eve & Roarke saga. It is a interesting mix of personal and professional. The mystery, while complex and multi-faceted, is not the sole focus of the book. We get an interesting up-close and personal view of Roarke from inside his head. I don’t remember spending so much time following Roarke around in any previous book. (Admittedly my memory isn’t what it used to be.)

The professional focus for Eve is a serial killer who murders three innocent young adults and takes their portraits after they are dead. He communicates with the public via Nadine Furst. The murders while not “brutal”, are sad because the victims are college age and seem to be those most noble of individuals—well-liked, dedicated, popular, talented, hardworking...well, you get the idea. Their families are devastated and it’s painful to read about their devastation and grief. The third murder is the worst because it turns out that the victim is the sister of Crack—a bouncer at the D& D who is known to Dallas and Peabody. He’s been a very minor recurring character since the second book. His reaction to his baby sister’s murder made me cry. It was very well written.

The murderer turns out to be an insane young man who has somehow come to believe that by killing these people he can preserve their “light” forever by taking it into himself through his camera. He’s completely insane and at the end of the book, I felt sorry for him. Still wanted him locked up, mind you, but I felt bad for him.

On the personal side of things, the book starts with a bang when Summerset falls down the stairs and breaks his leg. We have a whole lotta upset on the home front as a result. Then Roarke goes bonko when he finds out that the abusive old besom he thought was his mother---wasn’t his real, actual mother. His real mother turns out to have been a sweet country lass who was killed by Roarke’s horrible father. She loved him like crazy and wanted to give him a family. Roarke goes off the deep end with this discovery. It’s the first time we see a big chink in his armor, I think. He and Eve have a major breakdown in communication. Eve ends up trying to figure out how to handle the marital meltdown by calling Mavis (her only appearance in the book), talking to Dr. Mira, Summerset, Peabody and Nadine! She got around. I was happy with the way Eve handled the problem—she finally put Roarke first. Whew. Sometimes you get the impression she thinks she’s the only one who can catch a murderer, but Feeney sets her straight. She left the case in the middle to fly to Ireland and help Roarke through his personal crisis. It was nice and their relationship became a little less lop-sided as a result.

Other fun tidbits—Eve recommends Peabody for Detective. Peabody freaks out a little and begins to start studying for the exam. Trueheart and Baxter have a role in the big finish and Trueheart finds himself in jeopardy again. Baxter’s reaction was pretty neat. He was just wigging out with guilt since he and Trueheart have partnered up (sorta).

All in all, Portrait is a great book. I am willing to award it five out of five stars. My reasons were, first, because I was surprised by the identity of the murderer. I didn’t see it coming the first time I read the book. Secondly, because the personal stuff with Roarke was so good. And thirdly, because Crack’s reaction to losing his sister made me cry.

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