Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Imitation In Death by J. D. Robb

Imitation In Death by J. D. Robb is a pivotal book in the series. It is the last book published in paperback alone, and it marks the end of Peabody’s tenure as Eve Dallas’ aide. It is also a gruesome book.

Someone is imitating infamous serial killers. He starts out as Jack the Ripper, segues into the Boston Strangler, unsuccessfully attempts Ted Bundy and is finally caught attempting to imitate a fictional serial murderer. The amazing thing about Nora Roberts writing under the name J. D. Robb, is that she can really make you feel bad for the victims. She tells you just a little about the doomed character, but with such vividness that you cannot feel detached from their murder. I’ve ready many (many, many, many) mysteries from Agatha Christie to Dorothy L. Sayers to Joan Pickart. Usually the victim is just not that well-fleshed out, imo. I can keep a reader’s distance. Not with an In Death book though, which is why I skipped a few of the pages that detail the Boston Strangler Murder. It’s very upsetting.

Nitpicks: Eve interrogates one suspect pretty brutally. I mean, she has the guy sitting in the puddle of his ruined life and destroyed illusions at the end of the interview. Why? As she later tells Roarke, she knew in her gut who the murderer was from the get. So was a writer’s ploy to keep us guessing about the murderer? Is that why Eve had to rip the non-murderer guy to shreds in interview? It doesn’t make Eve likeable when she does stuff like that. At least Eve kinda, sorta explains that she has to investigate everyone—I just don’t know why she couldn’t investigate the guy she thought did first.

Fun Facts: There’s lots of Peabody in this story as she is preparing to take her Detective’s exam. And when she passes and Eve puts on her actual uniform---something I never dreamed she even had—it’s a great moment! The ending when she fakes Peabody out that they aren’t going to work together anymore only for Peabody to realize that she and Eve will now be Partners—is hilarious too. Other fun moment in an otherwise rather grim book—Eve and Roarke attend a family barbeque at Dr. Mira’s house. It’s pretty funny to see Eve reacting to toddlers. After the bbq, Roarke decides he has to have the ultimate guy-toy; an outdoor grill. His attempt to cook on it the first time is pretty funny. Usually Roarke is uber-competent at everything so his befuddlement is nice.

The theme over the last couple books has been mothers. Last book, Roarke’s world was rocked by the knowledge that his mother wasn’t the nasty old hag he thought, but rather a wonderful loving woman who was murdered by his father. In this book, Eve has another recovered memory during a dream. This time the dream is about her own mother. What she learns is very sad. There’s no happy ending for Eve—her mother was a prostitute and a junkie who didn’t want her and hated her. Fortunately, Eve has the sense to go to Mira about it. The result is sweet. When Roarke realizes that Eve has kept the dream/memory from him in order to protect him--what seems to be a headed for a fight moment--becomes a moment when the two grow closer.

As I said at the start, Imitation In Death has some gruesome murders. The capture of the murderer is a satisfying moment. There’s nothing like a woman bringing down a woman-hating serial killer. They never seem to like that too much, but I always do. The personal side of this book is what makes it a must read. It was really hard making myself keep to my book reading schedule after I finished it because I wanted to head right into the next one. I award the book four and a half stars out of five.

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