Review: Ceremony in Death – J D Robb

  • Title: Ceremony in Death
  • Author: J D Robb
  • Genre: Futuristic Murder Mystery Romance
  • Why: I intend to read the whole series.
  • Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Even in an age of cutting-edge technology, old beliefs die hard…

Conducting a top secret investigation into the death of a fellow police officer has Lieutenant Eve Dallas treading on dangerous ground. She must put professional ethics personal loyalties. But when a dead body is placed outside her home, Eve takes the warning personally. With her husband, Roarke, watching her every move, Eve is drawn into the most dangerous case of her career. Every step she takes makes her question her own beliefs of right and wrong – and brings her closer to a confrontation with humanity’s most seductive form of evil…

Review: *Warning* This review contains some spoilers.

And here we come to the first true disappointment in the In Death series. Compared to the other Eve Dallas books I have read this one had a weak plot and many instances of Eve acting totally out of character.

As always, the book starts with a death, in this case the death of Eve’s colleague Frank. He has apparently died of natural causes, but then Eve is approached by Frank’s granddaughter Alice, who claims he was murdered and that her life is in danger too. When Eve meets Alice later that day to discuss this, Alice reveals that she has been dabbling in Satanism – a huge mistake on her part – and that the head of the cult, Selina Cross, refuses to leave her alone. Frank was trying to investigate the cult in his spare time, so to speak, and paid for it with his life.

From here on the plot contrasts the satanic witches of Selina’s church with the white wiccans who Alice turned to once she realised her mistake, and Eve’s continuing attempts to make sense of it all against her own background of thinking both religions are a load of bullshit.

I cannot really comment on the accuracy in which either the wiccans or Satanists are depicted, though to me it seemed okay. Wicca is all about not harming people, whereas the Satanists do a lot of blood sacrifice and sex. To complicate the plot, the author has thrown in the son of a convicted mass-murderer as one of the white witches, which inevitably makes him a suspect.

What I really didn’t like about this book was how it just didn’t make sense throughout. In previous books we have discovered that Eve was repeatedly raped and abused by her own father, until she killed him when she was eight years old. She has always struggled with the question of whether a character such as that is hereditary, and surely must have proven to her own satisfaction that it isn’t, since she’s neither a rapist nor abusive. So for her to then suspect a man simply because his father was a mass-murderer is illogical at least, and plain hypocrisy at best.

Then we come to the remaining murders of the book. In itself it always irks me a little that none of these books deal with just one murder. It always starts with one, then the next one gives a few more clues, then usually the last one is the one that does the murderer in. There may be one or two more murders thrown in for added flavour. In this book we have three more murders, and to me at least there was never much doubt that the perpetrator was a member of the Satanic cult. Yet the three clear murders (as opposed to the two supposedly accidental deaths) are all of people in that same cult, and seemed to have little more motivation behind them than ‘they might crack and talk to the police’. There just seemed no point to them whatsoever, which annoyed me in a series which until now has had perfectly believable motivations from the murderers.

As for the ending… Well, the less said about that the better. It was close to ludicrous, and yet again the murderer didn’t live to stand trial. That is another annoyance, because I do not believe that in any of the five books so far the murderer was actually caught alive.

The good news is that it gets much better again after this volume, though I could see why anyone might give up after this book. My advice is to stick with it, but you can get away with skipping this one. Plot-wise you’re not missing anything, since nothing important happens to any of the secondary characters in this book.

Originally published on Silk Screen Views: http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/ceremony-in-death-j-d-robb/

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