The wonderful thing about J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’ In Death series is that there is a satisfying blend of the predictable and the unpredictable. You know that Detective Eve Dallas will have car problems and will rail against those idiots in the Maintenance Department. You know that Eve will banter with her aide, Delia Peabody, while trying to balance the roles of boss and friend. You know that Eve will exchange barbed insults with Summerset the butler. You know that Roarke, Eve’s multi-millionaire husband, will wind up helping with the latest case despite Eve’s half-hearted objections, and that Eve will find herself at the mercy of Trina the Stylist’s beauty makeovers.
Then there’s the unpredictable. What kind of twisted, sadistic villain will Eve take on next? Will we ever learn more about her abusive father or her mother, of whom Eve has no memories? How will Eve and Roarke’s almost year-long marriage be affected by the crimes? Will Peabody and McNabb, the hotshot electronics detective, live happily ever after or kill each other first?
Seduction in Death takes a crime that has made recent news headlines - date rape drugs - and escalates it to its inevitable conclusion in the near-future world of New York, 2059. A young woman is found dead and the autopsy indicates high levels of illegal drugs that first lowered her inhibitions and then stimulated her system. The combination of potent drugs stopped her heart shortly after she participated in wanton sex. Clues point to a sexual predator who engages women in Internet chat rooms, plays the romantic swain, and then sets up a face-to-face, and deadly, meeting. The murderer will be hard to trace - he has sophisticated computer knowledge and buries his true identity under layers of security. But he hasn’t reckoned with Eve’s determination, magnified by her own experience with rape, or with Roarke’s own technological savvy.
After several novels in which Eve and Roarke’s relationship was tested and strengthened, the 13th ,b>In Death novel is mostly smooth sailing for their marriage (Eve notes with satisfaction at one point that she is “really starting to nail this wife thing”). That leaves room for other characters to stretch and grow, including my favorite, Delia Peabody. You’ve got to love a woman who can “peel the wrapper off her candy bar with the slow precision and intense concentration of a woman stripping her lover.” Peabody’s detective skills are improving rapidly under Eve’s tutelage, and her love life is looking up as well. Those readers (myself included) who were saddened by the status of the McNabb/Peabody relationship at the conclusion of Betrayal in Death can breathe a sigh of relief - all is resolved in a very satisfactory manner. An unexpected attraction blooms between two other secondary characters, serving as a stark contrast to the fatal faux romance that the murderer establishes with his potential victims.
The body counts and gore factor are manageable in Seduction in Death, and the crime is solved with Eve’s usual combination of stellar detective work and sheer perseverance. No chance that the 13th In Death is unlucky for Ms. Roberts; she continues to satisfy her millions of readers.