11 April, 2012

Celebrity In Death by J.D. Robb

 New York To Dallas left me with a lot of optimism for the In Death series. I felt like finally closing the book on Eve's past might open the series up to a new direction, or at least relieve it from the heavy baggage of the first thirty something books. Celebrity In Death isn't the book I was looking for. It is solidly okay. Emphatically okay.   Without a real advance in the character's lives (no, that moment for Peabody doesn't count) the reader's focus is shifted to the crime. I expected to be fine with that. Surprisingly, I just didn't care very much who did it.

I didn't have page turning urgency for this installment of the In Death series. There's a wonderful moment toward the end of the book between Eve, Nadine, and Eve's thoughts in Battery Park. That moment reassured me that I still love Eve Dallas. There is no need for her to hand up her cuffs. But Even should have more moments like that. We shouldn't need a random squirrel to bring her alive. I felt, reading Celebrity In Death as though Eve is as trapped by our expectations as we are by her conventions. A certain amount of backstory is required for a new reader or a reader who hasn't kept up with the series. At this point I am like a kid with new vegetables. I just don't want any backstory. I want everyone to move forward, to stop talking about the past. I want to set down the mental checklist that Roarke will give Eve gifts, that Eve will want to have sex after exercising, that all of these things that have happened before will happen again.

You'd think moving Eve out of her office and into a film stage would shake things up enough. We do get a longer passage from Peabody's POV and for a change Nadine gets a shot at being the hero. Overall, it's a little too familiar. So many great moments failed to pull into a compelling whole. I normally read In Death books over the space of a few hours, but Celebrity In Death took me a few weeks to finish off. I kept forgetting about it. A chapter here, a library late notice there. Talking it over with another reader, we both felt it's time for something radical to happen. Eve has become too accomplished. No cop closes every case. I'd like Roarke and Eve to have something real to deal with, something not so easily resolved in a single volume. Maybe Eve blows a case and the killer walks because of their use of unregistered equipment. Or the evidence fails to come together and she has to make a choice between compromising herself or letting a killer walk free. Something bigger than the normal stakes, something outside of Eve's routine. Or, y'know, not. Robert's doesn't need me to tell her how to get her readers on. I'll be back for the next In Death, but I was glad I didn't purchase this one. As a library read, it was fine.

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