“Delusion in Death” J. D. Robb

J. D. Robb is a pen name for Nora Roberts who writes mostly romance & romance/crossover novels under her real name. Robb writes futuristic crime/thrillers, and her protagonist is Eve Dallas, a police lieutenant in a future NYPD homicide division. There are loads of these books, all called Something In Death, this one (Delusion in Death) is last autumn’s one (there appear to be two per year). In it Dallas must figure out what could make a bar full of perfectly normal business people suddenly slaughter each other – leaving 80 dead and nearly no witnesses. What could’ve caused this, who did it & why? And can Dallas stop the perpetrator from doing it again?

These books are guilty pleasure books for me, candy floss for the brain – ok in small doses but you wouldn’t want too much. There’s definitely a formula for these, a pattern to the shape of the story that holds true across the whole series. And I have the distinct feeling that the choice of a futuristic setting is to remove the need to have the murder methods be plausible with today’s tech or have the police follow acceptable to now standards. She’s even written in a collapse of society & rebuild in between now & then so extrapolation from here to there doesn’t need to be obvious. (Although having said that, the world she’s invented for them does hang together pretty well it’s not just a get out of jail free card she’s put some thought into it.) It doesn’t stop them being fun reads, and a series that I will pick up the next instalment of as soon as I see it in the library (and mostly finish reading while standing in the library) but I won’t bother reserving them.

Robb/Roberts’s strength is creating characters and making them feel real, and distinct. Obviously in this series Eve Dallas and the other recurring characters get fleshed out gradually over the course of several books, but even the one-offs for this book feel like individuals. Even the antagonist – who’s a pathetic weasel of a person, not a meglomaniac or caricature.

I don’t know if I’ve really got anything else to say about this book – fun but possibly not worth looking too closely at the plot in case I see holes.