Faithless in Death by J. D. Robb

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

Experienced reviewers of the ‘in Death’ series know there will be blood, that Eve Dallas will be up to her elbows in it, that the faithful Peabody will be dancing to keep the blood from her pink boots, that McNab, the electronics wizard will be doing mysterious things, while Roarke will divert from acquiring planets to help his wife solve the murder.

However, Faithless in Death is different. It begins in the usual way, with a gruesome murder, that, it appears, nobody could have committed. The plot develops in the usual way, with one big difference. This plot is overly complex, tortuous and difficult to follow. Robb seems to believe that if the human mind cannot solve the puzzle, technology is certain to find the answer.

The title of the book is just wrong. It is just not possible to find a link between ‘faithless’ in the title and the actual plot. She introduces the notion of New Order, a large group of families and singles, all of whom are devoted to their leader whose outrageous views are accepted without debate. The situation she constructs is disappointingly amateurish.

Robb has developed the habit of portraying Dallas as highly intelligent yet not understanding some of the basic idioms common in society. For example:

‘I’d be happy to have a little tete-a-tete with some tit-for-tat included’.

‘You’ve already got tits and I don’t have a tat.’

‘Then we’ll quid -some-quo,’ Nadine said breezily (174).

Dallas’s lack of knowledge just does not fit with her portrayal as an astute, highly efficient detective.

The love scenes in the book have been written many times. They are beautifully portrayed but have such a sameness about them that I found myself skipping those pages. In this book, Roarke is not the exciting lover but is a plastic figure going through the motions. It is only towards the end that he comes alive. Peabody is becoming a bore. Her interest is in diminishing her ass rather than the detective work for which she is being paid.

Though the tarnish has gone from the writing, the story is very readable if one persists. But Robb demonstrates difficulty in handling large numbers of people in a crisis. She decides to eradicate New Order in one operation. This involves organising NYPSD, the FBI, the Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, and other law promoting services. The result is pages and pages of talk and extraordinarily little action. The move on New Order is an anticlimax.

While this novel has its disappointments, it should not be relegated to oblivion. It has very strong writing, its characters act consistently through this book and across the series as a whole. One highlight of the plot is the competition amongst the minor detectives as to who could wear the gaudiest tie. Their chit-chat was highly amusing.

On the surface, this book is entertaining, and a neophyte reader would enjoy meeting this group of characters. However, the experienced J.D.Robb reader is likely to feel let down.

Faithless in Death

(2021)

By J. D. Robb

Hachette U.K.

ISBN: 978-0-349-42628-0

$24.99; 400pp

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