Calculated In Death
Grade : B

Calculated in Death is the 36th book in the In Death series. The books long ago left behind any passing acquaintance with realism and have become sheer, unbelievable fun. What makes them a joy to pick up is the subtle continued character growth, excellent pacing and revisiting of a world both familiar and loved. What can I say? If you’re a fan, visiting Eve and company is like putting on a favorite pair of sweats and curling up before the fire on a winter’s day.

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It’s winter in New York. Never a pleasant season but this one is turning out to be especially cold – and brutal. The body at the bottom of the stairs is meant to look like a mugging gone wrong – no briefcase, jewelry or coat. But any mugger worth his salt would have known the boots on the victim’s feet were worth a pretty penny. And they wouldn’t have taken the time to both stun the victim and break her neck – either would have sufficed, both was overkill. Eve Dallas knows murder when she sees it and she is looking at it on this cold, frosty night.

The victim is a well loved accountant with a nearly perfect family life. It doesn’t take long for Eve to suspect that it is her work that is at the heart of whatever happened. As she begins to investigate, the body count starts to climb. And the killer shows every intention of adding Eve and Peabody to their number.

Every book contains a tie-in to Eve’s private life and in this one it comes from the premiere of The Icove Agenda, the movie about a famous case Eve closed. Eve is the only person not completely psyched about the event. If she had her way, she and Roarke would be watching it from the comfort of their own home, popcorn and tubes of Pepsi the only accompaniment. Instead, there is a red carpet event planned, followed by the vid viewing and then a fancy celebrity-studded party. The witnesses seem more interested in what Eve will be wearing than the murders occurring all around them, but Eve manages to keep them on track using a combination of threats and snark.

If you’ve read the In Death books before – and if you haven’t, you can’t start here – you will be familiar with the pattern. There is a crime. Super cop Eve sees things others miss. It turns into a major case. She pulls in her team – side kick and fellow crime guru Peabody, McNab, Morris, Baxter and of course, expert consultant, civilian, Roarke. Some bonding occurs, some ass-kicking occurs and we have a mostly happy ending.

It isn’t that pattern that has kept people reading this long a series. What makes the books work is the characters. Robb wisely doesn’t rebuild them in every installment but changes them subtly over several novels. Growth is natural and organic, so that when it’s done you aren’t surprised at where it ended. For example, no one unfamiliar with the books would get why it was a big deal for Trueheart to be talking promotions in this novel but if you have followed his story arc over the many volumes he’s appeared in, you know why everyone is cheering for him.

Nowhere is this done better than in the two main characters, Eve and Roarke. Over the course of the books they have both changed a lot – but brilliantly, they have done so without losing the core of who they are. In this novel I found myself surprised over how at home Eve seemed both with her wealth and her fame. She still quibbled over getting “done up” by Trina and she made sure Roarke wasn’t buying her new jewels for every event, but she was at peace with putting on a pretty dress and going out for a night of glamor. She put her own spin on it but where in the start of the series she would have felt awkward around the rich and famous, this time out she was more amused by them. You could see her fitting more easily into Roarke’s world and also see her realizing he had a world. For so many books she has been all about the job. She loved Roarke but really didn’t have an interest in the everyday of his life. She took baby steps in that direction in this novel.

I have heard people ask before what Roarke sees in Eve, who can in fairness be a bit bitchy and self-absorbed. Towards the end of the novel Roarke tells Eve, “You delight me.” I thought that summed things up quite nicely. I think this book show cases what Eve does for Roarke. She gives him friends who don’t compete with him. She allows him access to the criminal world he loves, gives him a chance to outsmart his fellow law breakers but she lets him do it all on the up and up. I think Roarke had reached a point where he didn’t want to risk his empire for the game – but he also didn’t want to give that game up. With Eve he has the chance to consult and push boundaries without risking jail time. More Eve brings with her excitement, intellectual stimulation and variety. Eve never knows what her day will hold. Thanks to her, neither does Roarke. We could always see how they fit with each other deep down. They always got where each other came from. But now we can really see how they complete each other all the way through. Yes, the sex is great. But it’s about more than that. They both enjoy their combined lives more than they ever enjoyed their single ones and it is because they have meshed their lives so thoroughly and so well. They’ve completed that cycle that takes people from lovers to a couple.

Fans of the books won’t be disappointed when they pick up this volume. I am happy to be able to recommend it.

Reviewed by Maggie Boyd

Grade: B

Book Type: Futuristic Romance

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 15, 2013

Publication Date: 2013/03

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Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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