EGO AND REVENGE
When the wife receives the package that contains pictures and discs documenting her husband’s affair with her best friend, she grabs a few essential items and flies out the door. Arriving at her best friend’s home, she quietly breezes past the security since she designed the system herself. When she spots her husband’s leather jacket slung over the railing of the staircase, she shreds it and tosses it to the floor. And when she bursts into the bedroom, she finds her husband and her best friend joined in an intimate embrace – and very, very dead. A slight movement to her left, a sickening smell in her face and Reva Ewing slips into blackness.
When Eve Dallas receives the call, it does not come from NYPSD dispatch. It comes straight to Roarke from Caro Ewing, Roarke’s personal administrative assistant at Roarke Industries and Reva’s mother. Roarke asks Eve to check the scene out first before calling it in and she reluctantly agrees. Spotting the signs of a frame-up, Eve arrests Reva on double homicide charges, not only to satisfy the import of the evidence but also to protect Riva from the person who set her up.
And it looks like the frame is intended to snare more than a betrayed wife. Reva Ewing is not only Caro’s daughter, she is also head of one of Roarke’s most secret and vital government security projects. Take down Reva, take down Roarke Industries, take down Roarke.
As Roarke bores down into the lives of the deceased, he discovers a connection to the Homeland Security Organization. When he hacks into the HSO’s database, he not only clarifies that connection, he finds the HSO link from them to himself and from himself back to his father – and back to Eve’s father. And he finds out that the HSO knew, through both audio and video bugs planted in the motel room, what Eve’s father was doing to her. When he discovers the report in which the HSO team decides to leave the “minor female child” in the situation rather than lose their source, Roarke goes well and truly off the rails. Roarke tells Eve that he intends to exact lethal retribution for that decision and their marriage goes off the rails also.
Two books ago, J. D. Robb superficially intersected the murder and the marriage. Roarke, through means in no way connected to Eve’s case, had learned the identity and fate of his real birth mother. With no one alive on whom to avenge his mother’s death, Roarke’s rage morphs into a depression that Eve has little experience or skill in battling and it affects her ability to do her job well.
As the next book begins, Robb intersects the murder and the marriage more closely. This time the murders by sexual trauma cause Eve to relive her own childhood trauma so vividly that horrid facts about her birth mother surface from her subconscious. And when Roarke finds out, his rage over his inability to avenge anything in their respective pasts deepens.
Now, in this book, Robb truly merges the murder with the marriage. Roarke determines that the HSO agents who left Eve with her father and then left Eve to wander the streets bloody, broken and alone are still alive. And Roarke fully intends to remedy that situation. Now Eve and Roarke are only one beating heart – or lack thereof – away from the end of their marriage. They stand on opposite sides of a very distinct moral and legal line and on opposite sides of more than one kind of locked door.
Robb, in this novel, has created multiple layers of psychological tension. Readers who have made it this far into the series have a vested interest in the fates of Eve and Roarke, both as a couple and as individuals. Combine Roarke’s desire to kill with Eve’s need to cage those who do kill, add in a spy agency bent on self-protection, a rogue sociopath and a hand-launched missile and you have a hard time putting this one down.
It is also more than a little interesting that this book, published three years after the Twin Towers attack and two years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, casts a derivative of that agency as morally corrupt. Robb clearly uses the name “Homeland Security” in the agency title, and she depicts both the agency and the agents as entities that have used the broad arm of the protection laws to turn themselves into predators little different from those they supposedly protect the populace from. Now, ten years after the book’s publication, as I write this review, it is chilling to realize how accurate J. D. Robb’s fictional future is turning out to be.
Cover Art from Goodreads