Devoted in Death
One of the things that I think makes the 40 plus books in the In Death series work is that the crimes don’t all have the same tone. Some can be poignant, some tragic, some are historical, others are hysterical. This one features a set of criminals who struck me as slightly more violent than usual and with a rather disturbing reason behind that violence. I’d call the tone chilling, which made it perfect Halloween season reading.
The weather outside is frightful but of course Eve Dallas and her sidekick Peabody find themselves out in it anyway. The reason they are standing in a dark alley on this frozen evening is, naturally, a body. A young cello player cut down in the prime of life lies before them, clearly the victim of a very violent homicide. Amidst the bruises, lacerations and puncture wounds Eve’s sharp eyes pick up something on the battered and bruised corpse that she is certain will prove to be a vital clue – a heart with the initials E and D carved into the skin just under his armpit.
Eve is right. When she puts the info into the computer she finds a lot of like crimes, all of them executed so perfectly that little to no forensic evidence is left behind. She now knows where the killers have been but she doesn’t have a clue as to who they are, where they are from or whom they will strike next.
She gets help in that department from Deputy Will Banner, an Arkansas cop from a little town in the Ozarks called Silby’s Pond. He has been trying to track the killers on his off hours, convinced that a death in their town ruled an accident was actually a homicide perpetrated by this killer duo. When Eve had done a search on missings and homicides it had sent an alert to his computer. He’s flown to New York to offer what help he can in getting these perps brought to justice.
The In Death books have tons of characters so it is sometimes almost painful when they introduce someone new. Not in this case. I really liked Will and thought he was a valuable addition to the cast. He has some of the same “aw shucks” attitude as Trueheart but he combines it with some street smarts and cop instincts that make him a bit less naive than that character. It was fun watching him adapt to the size and violence of New York. Hopefully he’ll decide to join the NYPD and we’ll see a lot more of him.
Even with Will’s help, though, Eve is struggling to find the killers. I liked that aspect of the story as well. The victims were random and the criminals cleaned up after themselves so there weren’t forensics. This story showcased how the police have to adapt methodology to solve crimes which have no motive beyond giving the killers some sort of thrill, an interesting fact given that crime has recently become increasingly random.
But while Eve searches for the identity of the duo, the readers are introduced to the criminals and their perversions right from the start. I liked how this was done, with the victims playing a bigger role than the killers. Right from the beginning you see them for the vicious, petty people they are and are rooting for them to be caught. Because of the nastiness of their crimes I was pleased that we didn’t spend too much time in their heads but instead watched what they did and then waited for Eve to catch them.
The book follows the usual pattern of the series in bringing back regulars – Peabody, Feeney, Macnab, Dr. Mira and quite a few others are mentioned or make an appearance. It also follows the pattern of having Roarke front and center in helping Eve solve the crime. We get to see some marriage growth going on and we get to see Eve continue to build a real life for herself, this time concentrating on the things in her world; She’s growing attached to some comforts and routines that show she’s really made progress from the woman who didn’t need anyone or anything.
This is a nice (if somewhat typical) addition to a well written, long running series. It’s not a game changer in any way but it is a solid contribution to what remains a very entertaining group of books.