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Survivor in Death by J.D.  Robb
Review by Gayle Surrette
Putnam Adult Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0399152083
Date: 01 February, 2005 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Nixie Swisher is 9 years old. Up to now her biggest problem was sneaking a snack without her mother the nutritionist finding out. Tonight was special, Nixie's best friend, Linnie, was staying over. Nixie tried to wake her to sneak an Orange Fizzy, but Linnie wouldn't get up. The Orange Fizzy saved Nixie's life.

They were totally silent when the came through the house and killed Nixie's parents, brother, her best friend and the housekeeper. But they missed Nixie because she wasn't where she should have been and Linnie died in her place. Lt. Eve Dallas is assigned the case and she has no DNA, no fingerprints, no clues. What she has is a nine-year-old eye-witness who didn't panic and just might be the key to solving the case. 

Survivor in Death is the twentieth book of the In Death series by J.D. Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts who is generally known for her romance novels. (Those of you who have read the other books of this series may skip the rest of this paragraph.) The In Death books take place in New York City; this time it's the year 2059. Lt. Eve Dallas, NYPSD Homicide, is the central character in each of these murder mysteries. Eve is a cop through and through - it's not a job, it's who she is. In each book, we see the growth of the continuing characters usually with each new book picking up within a few weeks of the end of the last book.

In this book, Eve Dallas is faced with a witness to a murder. Nixie is nine-years-old and she managed to survive and keep her head. It was Nixie who called the police after witnessing the death of the housekeeper. But when Eve looks at Nixie, she sees herself - a child alone, covered in blood, escaping a nightmare. But Eve must get past that if she's to stand for the dead and find the killers.

Eve relies even more heavily on her partner, Peabody, and her husband, Roarke, and his resources. As with most of the novels the plot is intricately and skillfully woven. In twenty novels I've only guessed the killer once and that wasn't until I got to almost the half way point. Since I often figure out the killer by chapter four, I really enjoy a book where I can speculate along with the sleuth about 'who-done-it'.

Beyond the plot, the society of 2059 is recognizable as an extrapolation of our own. Smoking is against the law everywhere. Machines sell only nutritious snacks and chastise you if you indulge too often in sweets. Eve can't use the machines in Cop Central because she's been banned for abusing them so she has to get other officers to buy for her. The NYC vendors sell tofu on a stick. Most homes have AutoChef that cooks your meals for you. Cars can fly. You can travel to Europe for an evening out (if you have the money). There are also off-world colonies and resorts.

Of course, there are still the problems of terrorism, fanaticism, and just plain meanness. Not all the cops are good and Eve Dallas is not shy about routing out the bad ones. Eve's personal growth throughout the series is consistent with what is happening in the plots. And since the author is also a romance writer there are some steamy scenes between Roarke and Eve. There's lots for the fan of hard-boiled mysteries to like in these books, especially since the usual hard-boiled mystery doesn't have a female lead. Oh, and for the fans of the series, a spoiler of sorts, we still don't know who is stealing Dallas' candy out of her office.

Highly recommended.

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