Vendetta In Death by J.D. Robb (2019)
Eve Dallas is one tough cookie. Not that you could call her that as she’d take you to the cleaners for being impertinent. Eve’s a New York homicide detective in 2060’s USA. It a strange world of flying cars, vending machines that cook your food and clothes from the movie The Fifth Element. It also has all of the usual problems associated with a metropolis, such as death and lots of it.
In this instalment of the popular detective series, Eve encounters the murder of a man who, by all accounts, had it coming. Nigel B. McEnroy was a nasty piece of work guilty of drugging and raping multiple victims, and he got away with it. Or he did until Lady Justice got to him. She abducted him, drugged him and proceeded to torture him for hours before cutting his tackle off and leaving him to die. She then dumped his broken body outside his home with a note declaring his crimes and her presence. Shine a spotlight, Commissioner Gordon.
As Eve and her sidekick, Peabody, follows the scant leads left by Lady Justice, they find that the vigilante is not going to either stop or slow her campaign against men who victimise women. The following night yet another man is taken and found in a similar condition. The pressure is on the cops as they race to prevent any further killings. They are faced with disbelieving wives who refuse to acknowledge that their dead husbands were anything but decent, even though deep inside they know the truth.
Eve herself has an emotional reaction to the killings. Her own childhood was filled with violent abuse and rape at the hands of her father, a beast she killed in self-defence. It’s why Eve is so determined to see justice done for all victims, even the evil ones. She brings her husband, the heroic Irishman, Rourke, along in the investigation as a civilian consultant. She also takes time to shag his brains out just to vent a little. Rourke doesn’t seem to mind although he could be described as overbearing at times. He picks her clothes for her, and her food if you don’t mind. Bit of a control freak is our Dublin billionaire. Eve will probably end up shooting him.
In the course of the investigation, Eve encounters Darla Pettigrew, a jilted woman with tenuous connections to some of the female victims of Lady Justice’s targets. Darla’s mother is Miss Eloise, a famous older movie star and all-round good person. But there’s something about Darla that makes Eve uneasy. There’s no proof, but the instincts of New York’s finest are unassailable and Eve begins to look more closely at Darla. Darla doesn’t seem to care.
The Lieutenant Eve Dallas series is unfailingly good. J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) consistently comes up with new and innovative story-lines. Rebel Voice is unsure how she manages to do this. The series has been running for decades now. Vendetta In Death is number 49 and each plot is fresh and engaging. It can’t be easy to keep coming up with the goods in this way.
OK, the whole Rourke relationship thing is a tad trite at this stage. The Peabody/Dallas dynamic, whilst solid and consistent, is unchanging. There are a number of constants in the character list with variations only in the lives of the more peripheral characters. Nadine Furst, Dr Mira and her husband Denis, Mavis and Bella, they remain the central aspects of Eve’s inner circle and the world moves dangerously around them. It’s almost as if the author wants the reader to feel secure in the knowledge that there are people who are always there for you and always pure in their intentions. But is life like that?
It’s perhaps a trivial complaint. J.D. Robb is not high literature. But the readers of the Eve Dallas series do not expect it to be. Apparently they want a basic murder-mystery with the requisite strong love element, kinda like Mills and Boone meets Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Rebel Voice can say that there would appear to be nothing quite like this series out there and that’s a positive. Novel is good, even after all this time.
Eve digs. Peabody assists. Rourke looks on in admiration. Bad guys get caught. It’s formulaic but not boring, as the very ingenuous plots and consistently good writing keep the interest flowing. If Miss Marple merged with Barbarella you would get Eve Dallas. If Judge Dredd cut his balls and dick off, grew small breasts and enjoyed sex with an Irishman, then you would get Eve Dallas. If Ripley came to Earth, joined the cops and fell in love, then you would get Eve Dallas. But they haven’t, so Eve Dallas is who you’ve got, and she’s not half bad.
Sult scale rating: 7.5 out of 10. Yet another strong episode in the Eve Dallas saga. The plot is, as always, flawless. The characters are consistent and persistent. The baddies are bad if a little one-dimensional and the action is steady. Regular readers will come to feel as if they personally know Eve and Rourke and Peabody and McNabb as they patrol the mean streets of a future New York city. Recommended.