Ok, so the 38th book in the In Death series is out and… guys? Hey, where's everyone going? Wait! Come back! Eve goes to Africa! (I am totally lying. But come back anyway.) I liked this one! Well, mostly. Anyway, Eve catches a cold case. (By book 38 we all know what In Death is about, right? Abused street kid turned murder cop marries Irish abused street kid turned thief and business tycoon, together they hit the sheets while chasing murderers. There. You can skip books 1-37 if you want.) Early on I was concerned that the flaws of the last few books would mar the reading experience of Concealed In Death but Roberts / Robb has moved back into the sweet spot. It's crime time.
Roarke buys a building, and with it he reveals a fifteen year old murder. While his outrage at the crime happening on his turf was tedious (the guy is like dogs and trees, I swear) having Eve work a cold case was an interesting angle. Although lacking the rush against time urgency of an active serial killer, the department still lets her focus on a single case. Mavis, a character we've seen too little of since the earlier books, is brought back for a pivotal plot turn. She is a welcome figure in Eve's world. Mavis loves but does not idolize her. In fact, Eve's almost pathological inability to consider living people is highlighted throughout Concealed In Death as she struggles to make connections with those she values. Eve is a terrible friend, but people stay in her life anyway.
Without giving away the storyline, the cold case touches on aspects of Eve and Roarke's own youth. Eve has moved past her childhood flashbacks, now she dreams of her victims. Conversations with annoyed dead people is a surprisingly satisfactory way to push the plot along, making Eve's intuitive leaps seem more natural. The resolution is no mystery, but In Death has always been more about the journey than the destination. There are some dropped points, astonishingly long memories, and a few characters built up only to disappear at the close. I'm on the fence about everything related to Africa. It's quirky and a little post-colonial. Ultimately I went with it. Roberts continues to provide diverse side characters without making an issue of their ethnicity. Eve's New York is not a single class or color, even if the core characters often are. Concealed In Death is one of the better books in the series and a good entry point for the curious.
*This review originally appeared at Love In The Margins.