Strangers in Death Review
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Everybody loves a good scandal—everybody, that is, but futuristic crime fighter NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who finds herself waist-deep in a big, juicy scandal in the latest by J. D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts), Strangers in Death.

Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are called in to investigate the death of prominent New York businessman Thomas (Tommy) Anders, who died in his home in an irresistibly scandalous way—surrounded by various toys of an adult nature. The press instantly jumps on the obvious explanation: kink gone wrong.

After Tommy’s wife, Ava, rushes home from the tropical resort where she had been vacationing with her two closest friends, she reluctantly explains that her husband had desires that made her uncomfortable—so they agreed to open up their marriage a bit. According to Ava, the killer must be one of his other women—probably a professional.

  
 
For Eve, however, the pieces just don’t fit—and she suspects that the killer is a lot closer than Tommy’s wife claims.

As with Robb’s last novel, Creation in Death, I once again struggled with the picky little details in Strangers in Death. Since the story takes place in 2060, there are plenty of things in Eve’s world that are different from the way they are today—but I think it’s the things that aren’t different that bothered me the most. For instance, I have a hard time believing that people will still be saying “woot,” more than 50 years from now. (Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve every actually heard someone say “woot.”) While I know that things like that are just minor glitches, they still pulled me out of the story every once in a while—and that’s not a good thing.

While the gripping story made up for those glitches in Creation, the investigation in Strangers goes in a completely different direction. Instead of racing to find the killer, Eve pretty much knows the killer’s identity right from the beginning. Her challenge, then, is to figure out how the murder played out—and to find enough evidence to make the arrest. And while it’s probably a somewhat realistic scenario, it doesn’t really make for a thrilling crime novel. I kept waiting for a shocking twist, but there really aren’t any twists—nor is there a whole lot of suspense—making the story more of a police procedural than a crime thriller.

To make things even more challenging for the reader, already tough-as-nails Eve gets even tougher (and meaner) as the story builds. And while her growing anger is supposed to be brought about by old, unpleasant memories that the case digs up, it makes her a less-than-lovable—and sometimes downright heartless—heroine.

So while Strangers in Death may be scandalous in nature, it’s actually rather lackluster in execution. It’s a detailed procedural, but, unfortunately, it’s lacking in suspense. I recommend skipping this one and picking up its predecessor instead.

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