THE POWER OF FAMILY
Nixie Swisher is having a mid-week sleepover with her best friend, Linnie. The nine-year-old wakes up about 3 a.m. with the overwhelming desire for a soda. Unable to get Linnie to join her, Nixie slips down to the kitchen, gets her drink, and catches a glimpse of a dark shadow slipping into the housekeeper’s suite.
Thinking the housekeeper has a secret lover, Nixie slips in behind the shadow, hoping to espy a bit of the forbidden. What she actually sees is the shadow slitting the housekeeper’s throat. Terrified, she molds herself into the wall and, when the shadow leaves, she uses the housekeeper’s ‘link to call 9-1-1.
Desperately needing and wanting her mother after what she has witnessed, Nixie goes to the second floor by way of the housekeeper’s stairs, having seen the shadow go up the front way. From the back landing, she sees two shadows leave her parents’ room and split up, one going into her brother’s room and the other into hers. Crawling behind them, Nixie slips into her parents’ room, over to her mother’s side of the bed and realizes that she is crawling through an ever-deepening pool of blood.
Arriving on the scene, Eve Dallas finds five bodies, including two children, all in their beds, all with their throats cut. But what Eve can’t find is a definitive answer as to who called for help. Figuring that person did not just lie around in bed waiting to be killed and determining that the female child found is not whom she should expect, Eve and Peabody begin a room-by-closet-by-cupboard search of the premises.
Remembering something out of place in the parents’ room, Eve goes back there. And what she finds amidst all the splatter and gore are small bloody crawl tracks leading from the mother’s side of the bed into the ensuite bathroom. Following the smears across the floor to the shower, she slowly pulls back the curtain – and finds a blood soaked catatonic Nixie, cowering in the far corner.
Quicker than the snap of a finger, Eve finds herself propelled back in her memory to the night when she was eight years old, when she killed her father. She sees herself, raped, with a broken arm, holding the knife, covered in blood, and cowering in a corner. Projecting that long-ago image of herself onto Nixie, Eve panics and is ready to flee. But she chokes the response down and tries to get Nixie to come out. When Peabody comes in, startling the child, Nixie leaps at Eve, attaching herself to Eve like a remora fish to a shark. And there she stays.
From this moment, we are immersed in three storylines, the first of which is the cold-blooded elimination of an entire family. Only the entire family has not been executed. Gone are the divorce lawyer father, the nutritionist mother and the older brother, with the housekeeper as collateral damage. But the killers mistook Linnie for Nixie, a mistake that the media will surely make well known. Now Eve must not only solve the murders, she must keep Nixie safe and off the killers’ radar. So she takes Nixie to the safest place she knows, the “fortress” she and Roarke call home.
The second and third plotlines are Siamese twins. Both Eve and Roarke must process their reactions to Nixie and must reconcile those reactions with their own violent and abusive childhoods. And they must each process their reactions to having a child underfoot. In addition, Roarke must resolve his unexpected reaction to seeing the two children in their beds with their throats slit. While he has had to kill in the past, he has never taken the life of an innocent, let alone a child, and he is floored by the act.
As usual, J. D. Robb puts together a fine story. Piece by piece, we follow the logic – and the mistakes – of the investigation. And when Robb has Eve make one particular mistake, she writes an action sequence so vivid, so realistic and so spectacular that you would swear you are right there watching it live.
Also, as usual, Robb progresses the depth of character and relationship issues for all the crew, major and secondary. Roarke begins to really look forward to his expert consultant, civilian, duties and Eve seems to be quite comfortable employing him now. And Eve and Roarke are more comfortable in their married skins than ever. Of course, the scene where Robb has Roarke tell Eve that he would like them to have children someday is a classic. If you have read the entire series to this point, you can just image exactly how that went over. And what a hook, along with Eve’s captaincy, for entries down the series line.
Cover Art From Goodreads