Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

The latest J.D. Robb thriller retains the hard edge that Robb maintains in all her crime novels based on the New York-based Lieutenant Eve Dallas. There have been many of them. Her latest, Leverage in Death has all the tangled twists we have come to associate with this writer. It’s difficult to think of an original superlative for the author as they’ve all been used up.

The plot requires more concentration than many of her previous works. The storyline seems simple enough. Paul Rogan sets off a bomb in a suicide vest and kills eleven people. No one can understand why. But, when Paul’s wife and child are found bound by chains and beaten severely, it soon becomes clear what the real perpetrators want, and that is to put a man in a situation that either kills him and many others or causes the criminals to torture his wife and children to death while he listens to their every scream. Why do this? To get at the money, of course; always, get to the money. And for this reason, the crime is repeated.

This is not much of a foundation on which to build a book of 400 odd pages. What was the motive? How were the victims chosen? That’s what Eve Dallas has to answer, but in addition, she needs to find out who is doing this and bring the criminals to justice.

The key to this crime mystery lies in the title. The criminals have leverage over their victims in the sense that the victim’s assets are held in the criminals’ hands. The assets are the family members. At the same time the word ‘leverage’ is a term used in economics. This is where Robb’s explanations become convoluted and abstract and, may I say, somewhat drawn out and boring. Once she gets past that, then the old Robb returns and the police can get about their business.

When the criminals are eventually caught, I would think most readers would be satisfied. They had weathered the complex material leading to this endpoint. However, the ways in which the crooks protected themselves were too clever in my opinion. I felt that perhaps J.D. Robb might have been having a ‘lend’ of her readers. We have a house wired up in every direction and ahead of all his elaborate trickery runs our man to the window, where he climbs out and down straight into the arms of the police constables that Eve Dallas had stationed there. All that intellect on display and then a prosaic ending.

The delightful Peabody is in the book and plays her part as a companion and a foil for Eve in every way we’ve come to expect of her. Feeney and his outlandish IT troopers put in a solid day’s work, McNab is as mad as ever. His combination with Peabody works well in the J.D. Robb books but I doubt it would stand the test of time with a lesser writer.

J.D. Robb never disappoints and, with a recipe that is now so weather-worn that her readers could nearly write the book for her, she might be expected to fade into obscurity. This will never happen. The readers are in the corral and await with impatience their next outing.

Leverage in Death

(2018)

By J.D. Robb

Hachette

ISBN: 978-0-349-41790-5

$29.99; 389pp

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