Review: Witness in Death – J D Robb

  • Title: Witness in Death
  • Author: J D Robb
  • Genre: Futuristic Murder Mystery Romance
  • Why: I intend to read the whole series
  • Rating: 5 Stars

Description: It is 2059, and New York City homicide lieutenant Eve Dallas’s husband, Roarke, is producing a revival of Agatha Christie’s thriller Witness for the Prosecution. On opening night, when the villainous character Leonard Vole gets his just deserts, someone substitutes a kitchen knife for the prop knife, and the actor, Richard Draco, is stabbed through the heart. Trouble is, in time-tested British mystery fashion, everyone in the cast had good reason to despise Richard, a misogynist who seduced and discarded beautiful young women, including one whom he knew to be his daughter. It’s up to Eve to solve the case, an emotionally difficult task as she is no stranger to incest herself: she was beaten and raped by her father before she managed to escape him. As Eve fights to keep her head above water, she tries to bond at a deeper level with Roarke, so that her future will heal the pain of her past.

Review: A very interesting entry in the In Death series; one which rather bucks the trend so far. In most of the previous books, the prime suspect has been someone closely involved with Eve – her husband, a friend, her husband’s butler; they’ve all been accused of murder so far. Not in this one. In most of the previous books, the victim (or victims) have been upstanding members of society – good people with family and friends who mourned them. Not in this one.

The book starts when Eve and Roarke attend a play, Witness to the Prosecution. During the climax of the play the leading man is stabbed in the heart by the leading lady, and on this opening night it soon becomes clear that the knife used for the stabbing isn’t a stage knife, and that the actor, Richard Draco, has just been murdered for real in front of an audience of hundreds of people. It is evident that the fake knife was switched for a real one, and it soon becomes clear that pretty much the entire cast had reason to want Draco dead.

What follows is possibly the best insight into Eve’s character to date. She does her usual, thorough job of gathering evidence, and in the process we find out that Richard Draco was a despicable, loathsome human being. He preyed on women and saw all men as rivals, begrudging them even the barest hint of attention. In fact, Draco’s only redeeming feature was that he was a brilliant actor. Every single suspect eve interviews confesses that they are happy he is dead, and that they would gladly have murdered him, had they thought they could get away with it.

Many investigators, when faced with this kind of evidence, would put in a half-hearted attempt to find the murderer while deep down feeling that justice was done and that a monster had been removed from the earth. Not so Eve. Eve exists to find murderers, and her personal opinion of the victim is irrelevant. Not many people would have such an unwavering devotion to duty when faced with the death of a horrible man.

Other than that the book is solid, like most of the series so far. The plot is sound, and I didn’t suss out who the murderer was until the point where I was probably meant to. The side characters pootle along like they have so far, and Eve and Roarke have a couple of bouts of steamy sex. Business as usual, but definitely one of the better books in this series.

 

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