Echoes In Death

Echoes in Death  by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, has done it again. What? (I hear you cry out) Well, penned a great novel, I quickly reply. Echoes in Death is yet another solid addition to the Lieutenant Eve Dallas series and is number 44 (published 2017) in a growing list.

Eve Dallas is a beautiful yet tough New York cop on a futuristic planet. She is married to the roguish Irish billionaire, Roarke, and is partners with the eminently likeable Delia Peabody.

In Echoes in Death, Eve and Roarke encounter a gorgeous and naked young woman running through the streets of new York whilst disorientated and in great distress. I know what you’re thinking, and no, she was not being chased by Donald Trump and he exclaiming ‘so sad, so sad’. Instead the beautiful woman is the victim of a vicious home invasion. Eve and Peabody endeavour to apprehend the culprit(s) as the incidence of similar attacks increases.

J.D. Robb knows her characters inside and out. From book to book, over the course of 45 novels, there is a reassuring consistency to all, even though the circumstances that the different personalities encounter are difficult and variable. Robb is a true expert at weaving a tale. Each novel in this series contains an unique and well-structured plot-line. Most are murder-mysteries with enough twists and turns, hints and allegations to keep every reader engaged. All the stories are page-turners.

Criticisms? Yes.

Roarke. I have written before about Robb’s romanticized presentation of this particular Irishman. He is tall, dark and handsome. He is an expert in martial arts and weaponry. He is merciless with his enemies and uber-sensitive with his friends, good people and children. He has, in this novel, established a refuge for children who are living in dangerous environments. He is a hacker-extraordinaire, and Eve utilizes his skills frequently. He is so perfect that I, as a heterosexual male, am even inclined towards riding him, such is his magnetism. In short, he is too much and is, as a result, somewhat implausible (thank Christ for that too, as I was only joking about riding him…).

Previously, I have railed against the idea that gifted hackers are a dime-a-dozen in novels today, and in this book we find this plot aid in abundance. There is apparently nothing that can withstand Roarke’s skills, including Eve’s knickers although, in Echoes in Death, they shag considerably less. This might be due to the serious nature of the story-line and the uncomfortable issues raised therein.

J.D. Robb is incredibly gifted at tackling tough issues, but in a way that never overwhelms. Kudos to the author for having the courage and sensitivity to use her books to remind readers of the horrors that many unfortunates must endure in life, even if she does stage the scenarios in a high-tech future.

On the matter of sensitivity, Roarke is a soppy shit when around his wife. ‘Darling’ this, and ‘Beautiful Eve’ that. I keep a bucket close for when Roarke speaks privately with Eve. I wonder if Nora Roberts has ever spent time with a real Irishman. Does she think that we all eat boiled bacon and cabbage (puke) and drink nothing but Guinness? Does she believe that we all own an Irish Wolfhound and wear Aran jumpers? For fuck’s sake, Nora, we appreciate the sentiment, but could you ever tone it down a bit (that last line would make a great intro for an Irish punk song).

If any Irishman was heard speaking to a woman in the squelchy way that Roarke speaks to Eve, he would immediately get hit over the head with a chair. Even if he was visiting a creche to make a donation to its upkeep, a 3 year old would crack him over the skull with a little plastic seat, and tell him to ‘cut that shit out’.

I do enjoy the setting for the Lieutenant Eve Dallas series. New York, circa 2061, is a weird place. New York, circa 2017, is a weird place. I once observed a man walking down an avenue there in daytime wearing a leather mini-skirt and fish-net stockings and a boob-tube. He had very hairy shoulders, very hairy legs, a full beard and a complete lack of irony. I thought at the time that it wasn’t something you would see too often in the Irish countryside. Then again, who knows what people get up to behind closed doors.

In 2061, we have the ubiquitous AutoChef which can supply all manner of fine food and refreshments, dependent upon what ingredients you can afford to put into each individual unit. We have ad blimps; cars that fly; cop droids; funky fashion and new hipster terminology. Nora Roberts may serve in shaping the real New York of the future.

All-in-all, Echoes in Death is a great read (Roarke’s slobbering notwithstanding). It is a top class series deserving of a high budget movie followed by a slick T.V. series. I would pay to be an extra in that. I would play the cat, Galahad, if necessary, and would purr professionally and everything. I wait with baited (and fishy) breath.

Sult scale rating: 7.5 out of 10. Recommended.