Friday, February 20, 2009

Strangers In Death

Strangers in Death is J. D. Robb’s take-off on the movie “Strangers on a Train”. Eve and Peabody are assigned investigate the murder of a man who seems to be universally liked. He has no enemies. At first glance, his wife appears to be completely in the clear because she was in the Caribbean when the murder occurred in New York. Eve, however, becomes convinced that the wife is guilty and eventually uncovers the how of it all.

For the first time in this book, we get a sense of the fact that Eve is actually the head of the homicide division—the ranking officer under Commander Whitney. There is no equivalent to Captain Feeney—the head of the EDD division—so I’m surprised I haven’t wondered who has been running homicide before now. I don’t know how the duties are split between Commander Whitney and Eve, though, because Eve has never seemed to have any duties in this regard before this book.

Our old friend Detective Baxter and his faithful sidekick, Trueheart have been investigating a murder for more than two months and still have no real evidence or clues to lead them to the murderer. Baxter asks Eve (as his supervisor) to take a look at his murder book and the lines of investigation that he has followed to see if fresh eyes on the case can help break it open. Since getting this case, Baxter has been given and solved six or seven other cases. In fact, he has multiple open cases right now, which he is juggling. (I have to mention that just because it is what Eve used to have to do too, early in the series--but never seems to have to do anymore.)

Conveniently, while running a list of names looking for a possible conspirator in her murder, Eve sees the name of the wife of the victim in Baxter’s murder and puts the pieces together. Wife 1 murdered Husband 2 and vice versa.

This was a good book—with no high highs or low lows. It was a solidly interesting mystery. When the wife finally got nailed for the murder it was very satisfying. (The second conspirator is an abused wife who was just a sad woman. I felt badly that her children would be essentially orphaned.)

The fun personal part of the book was that Louise and Charles got engaged. Charles decided to change careers and will now be a sex therapist. He bought a big house and he’s ready to settle down. Now maybe Eve won’t show up at his house at 10:00 o’clock in the evening in order to question him because one of his gazillion clients has some connection or involvement in a murder. Hasn’t she ever heard of business hours? I give the book a solid four out of five stars—a good, solid book—not a great one.

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