|Time of Death is a collection of three previously published novellas featuring Lt. Eve Dallas, her husband Roarke and various members of the New York Police Department in or about 2060. In addition to being futuristic, they also share a common theme of various expressions of the occult and science fiction surrounding the deaths of the victims. Fans of J.D. Robb will not find it hard to bend just a little bit more in their suspension of disbelief.
"Eternity in Death" opens the book. In the first chapter readers learn that one very wealthy and attractive victim has been promised eternal youth and beauty by just taking a magic potion and waiting for her lover to join her, so she could then "pass" with him awakening an hour later to a life of dancing and partying.
Lt. Dallas responds to the crime scene, and aided by vampire-like bites on the victim's neck together with being "bled out" and statements from the maid about her employer's new love of her life, her search narrows quickly to an underground New York Club featuring vampires and the like.
"Ritual in Death" finds Eve at a cocktail party with her husband Roark, when a man staggers into the gathering wearing nothing but smears and smatters of blood and clutching a knife. Fortunately, the hotel belongs to Roark and he is able to mobilize staff in assisting Eve. She traces the man's journey backward to find in Suite 600 a large living room lit by hundreds of candles lighting a black pentagram on the floor with a body of a badly mutilated woman floating in a pool of blood. The man has no memory of the evening other that it was his first date with the victim.
"Missing in Death" has been reviewed on this site as a short story in The Lost. It has perhaps the most unique of the three plots. A vacationing family is crossing to the Statute of Liberty on the ferry when the mother accompanies her small son to a restroom. Intending to utilize the women's restroom herself, she is initially put off by the closed cones at the door. She enters anyway to be confronted by a man who has killed a woman there and slashed her repeatedly, leaving an inordinate amount of blood.
NYPD is called when her family cannot find her on the ferry and when they enter the women's restroom, they find a blood streaked area with no body. An hour later the mother shows up with no recollection of the time from when she left her son at the men's room door. How the murderer and the victim left the ferry in plain view of the passengers is the unique question.
All of these stories focus on the police procedure fans know so well involving the familiar Peabody and her cohab partner McNabb, Feeney, who was Eve's old mentor, and various characters from prior novels that interweave themselves from time to time within these stories.
As always, the plots are inventive and unusual, the characters mature more with each passing story, and the dialogue as predictable as a conversation with an old friend would be. Can one ask for anything more in a summer read?