Monday, February 09, 2009

Survivor in Death

I've been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to Survivor In Death. If you are the type of person who likes a cathartic cry--this book is for you. It is the best J. D. Robb written, in my opinion, because it has some powerful scenes which tear your heart out. I was sniveling and crying like you would not believe as a read it. I also ended up staying up way too late to finish it because I couldn't put it down. Don't forget--I have read it before and I still couldn't put it down.

The book opens as nine-year-old Nixie Swisher sneaks downstairs to drink an Orange Fizzy at two a.m. She sees a shadow and follows it only to see an assassin murder the family housekeeper. She's smart and she's got guts--so she doesn't make a sound and she is able to call 9-1-1. Then she does what any nine year old would do--she heads upstairs to her Mom and Dad. Only to discover they've been murdered too. Her brother and best friend are also dead.

As you can imagine telling the book from Nixie's perspective is heart-wrenching. In the course of events, Eve Dallas takes Nixie home with her. Nixie is counting on Eve to catch the men who did this to her family. Every time she sees Eve she asks her if she has caught them yet. No pressure.

As a secondary storyline we also have the problem of what to do with Nixie now that she's an orphan. Her best friend Linney was killed (sort of in her place) and now Linney's parents don't feel they can become Nixie's guardians. I was rooting for Eve and Roarke to just keep her. It seemed like a great solution to me because then Eve wouldn't have to actually give birth. I can't figure out how she can do that because she's always getting hurt in the line.

Pros--the book gets you by the throat. The scene where Nixie goes to the morgue to see her family will make anyone cry. She lays her head on her mother's chest and realizes there is no heartbeat. (Frankly, I'm tearing up again just thinking about it.) The character of Nixie is memorable. I wish Robb would find a way to let us know how she is doing.

This book has everyone we like in it: Mira, Morris, Baxter, Trueheart, Webster, Mavis, Peabody, Feeney, Nadine, McNab, Whitney--you name 'em--they're in there. Much of the story takes place at the mansion as Eve works out of the home office. We see lots of Summerset, who takes on the majority of Nixie's care. Mira is in and out as she counsels Nixie. Mavis visits Nixie as a treat. Yeah, the gangs all here.

The plot is tight. At first, you can't figure out what this average family could have done or been mixed up in that would have resulted in this heinous murder. In the end--it was believable to me. Revenge and sociopaths--whacha gonna do?

Hinky-bits--Nobody sleeps like they should--especially Eve. I get that Eve is trying to solve a bad one. For crying out loud, at least give the girl six hours a night. Working on three hours sleep again and again is counter-productive to your mental health, plus, it makes you grouchy.

Next, after two cops are killed in the line--Eve announces that every detective will be working the case in addition to their current caseload and all personal time and vacation time is cancelled. Then the next thing I know, Internal Affairs is at her house because of suspicion about all the OT. Huh? I thought all resources were being devoted to this? None of the non-team member cops ever seem to do anything to help the case either, so why say they'll help?

Finally, Robb really likes her Eve fighting with technology character trait. Used to be Eve's car was always a barely functioning piece of @&^* but two books ago she got a brand new ride. (After her car chase scene in this book, I'm not sure it is still in great condition.) She also got a new computer three books ago. Now it's mis-functioning. In fact, I think Robb might have forgotten that she gave Eve a new computer altogether.

Despite, my minor nit-picks, this book is the best of all the In Death books. Nixie is a great character and her story will make you weep. I give the book FIVE stars out of Five.