“WHY? BECAUSE I CAN.”
Roarke is in Ireland attending the memorial service for Mick, his longtime friend who took a hit meant for him at the end of the previous novel, “Betrayal in Death.” Eve makes the mistake of trying to sleep alone in their bed and is enveloped in a nightmare about her murder of her father. This nightmare goes deeper and farther than those previous as she sees the body of her father rise above her, spilling blood from the knife wounds she has inflicted. She hears his voice as he promises to make her pay, that she can’t get rid of him so easily and that he is never going to go away.
Eve screams herself awake; but before she can get her terror under control, she catches a case – a woman who has fallen from a balcony to the sidewalk below. And before the book is over, every word that the specter of her dead father said in that dream, every memory she has of the repeated rapes, every moment she spent in that hospital as an eight year old will serve as directional forces toward solving the case.
As it turns out, the woman did not self-terminate nor was she pushed. She was dead before she was thrown over her balcony railing. And she is dead because her date spikes her dinner drink with a rare illegal drug (Whore) that removes sexual inhibitions. Then, in her bedroom, as her heart wears down from her body being repeatedly sexually assaulted, the date spikes another drink with a rare illegal drug (Rabbit) that heightens sexual performance. Finally, when her heart bursts, he leaves the drinks on the table, leaves rose petals on the rumpled bed and tosses her body over the balcony. And more such seductions are on his agenda.
J. D. Robb writes a grisly tale that centers on misogyny. The disdain, the disrespect and the hatred of women that has been passed down through multiple generations of two families leave the arena of verbal and physical abuse and morph into murder. Robb takes the concepts of entitlement, cyber-dating, chat rooms, screen names, Prince Charming, and date rape and weaves them into the twisted tale of a game played by two friends – a game complete with rules and points scored for each stage of the “seduction” achieved, with bonus points for imagination and ingenuity.
Robb’s writing moves the story along at a realistic, though tension-filled, pace. Evidence is obtained as the result of logically following information obtained through witnesses, security records, Roarke’s business connections and Roarke’s unregistered computers. Eve’s character is grown to yet another level in this novel and she is much more accepting of the company and skills of her “expert consultant, civilian” while working the case. Robb also advances the storyline for Peabody and McNab, as well as that for Charles Monroe.
But in the end, this is not just a tight, page-turning police procedural. This is a gritty social commentary on sexual discrimination, gender hatred and rape. Eve makes it through, coming out of the investigation a stronger person. But Eve is a character in a book, not a living, breathing soul. So if you have a friend who has been involved in such a situation – a forced rape or a chemical date rape – you might want to think carefully, assessing their emotional progress first, before recommending that they read this book.
Cover Art from Goodreads