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Memory in Death by J.D.  Robb
Review by Gayle Surrette
Putnam Adult Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0399153284
Date: 24 January, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

New York in 2060 isn't that much different from our New York City: traffic congestion, pollution, crowds, plays, theater, shopping, business, and of course crime. This is the 21st In Death book. Most series get a bit stale before they reach this point. J.D. Robb has managed to keep her series fresh by allowing the characters to grow and change as a result of the events of each book. Lt. Eve Dallas of Memory in Death is not the Eve Dallas of Naked in Death. However, she is, at the core, the Eve Dallas we originally came to know. What has changed is her opening up to people and emotions. There is a softer side but she's still 100% cop with a tough "I can handle anything facade."

Lt. Eve Dallas takes everything in stride. Here it is approaching Christmas and there's a dead Santa on the sidewalk. Santa took out a pedestrian on his short flight from the 36th floor. Dallas and her partner Peabody not only handle it, they solve it. Peabody needs to go to court to testify against the psychic who hid information from them, leading to her being nearly killed. Well, she can support Peabody. A thief steals a purse on the steps of the courthouse and she stops him. But, faced with Trudy Lombard, the foster mother who abused her, Dallas loses it and is barely able to keep herself together enough to kick Trudy out of her office. Peabody isn't the only person worried about Eve. 

Memory in Death starts off at a fast pace and just keeps rolling along. One of the truths about a long running series is that after a while it's not so much reading books as reading about people you know and care about -- sort of like a yearly update letter. After 21 books, the reader knows these people. Seeing Eve off balance trying to work by the numbers rather than using her almost supernatural ability to read a murder scene as if it was a movie playing just for her is unnerving. As the story unfolds, the reader learns more about Eve's life in foster care. Trudy Lombard was a woman who should never have been allowed to care for children, especially girls.

To solve the case of Trudy's murder, Eve has to once again consciously face the buried memories of her past and make peace with how they have affected her life. She has to trust Roarke unquestionably because to doubt could cost their marriage. She has to dig into Trudy's life as a foster mother and find the girls, now women, who she fostered. And she has to find Trudy's killer if not for herself then for Trudy's son Bobby, the only person who was kind to her during that nightmare existence. Eve also has to figure out this whole Christmas gift giving thing.

Eve is on a continual quest to remake herself -- to become the worthwhile, competent person she sees in the mirror using the scared, abused child she was as raw material. She's survived a childhood most people couldn't even imagine in their worst nightmares and she came out a decent human being who stands for justice for the dead. This meeting of the past and the present comes at a critical point in Eve's life when she's making a transition from being just the job to being a well-rounded individual with friends she cares about and who care about her and a solid marriage she wants to maintain.

Once again the plotting is tight, logically laid out, and even though you think you know who did it you don't know why they would. Motivations are everywhere but where you need them to guess who did it but, in the end it's all clear. The characters have grown from the last book. But, don't take my word for it-- read the book.

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