Review: Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb

Review: Shadows in Death by J.D. RobbShadows in Death (In Death, #51) by J.D. Robb
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: futuristic, mystery, romantic suspense, thriller
Series: In Death #51
Pages: 368
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 8, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Lt. Eve Dallas is about to walk into the shadows of her husband's dangerous past.
As it often did since he'd married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. Then again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint.
When a night out at the theatre is interrupted by the murder of a young woman in Washington Square Park, it seems like an ordinary case for Detective Eve Dallas and her team. But when Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd, Eve realises that this case is far from business as usual.
Eve has two complex cases on her hands - the shocking murder of this wealthy young mother and tracking down the shadow before he can strike again, this time much closer to home. Eve is well used to being the hunter, but how will she cope when the tables are turned? As Eve and the team follow leads to Roarke's hometown in Ireland, the race is on to stop the shadow making his next move . . .

My Review:

This 51st entry in the In Death series may be a comfort read for long-time readers of the series – like moi – because this one is all about the fam. But that’s also what makes it a trip to the angst factory for the entire cast, as shadows from the past reach out to threaten one of their own.

That a bunch of NYPSD cops consider the former street thief turned mega-business tycoon Roarke one of their own is a surprising balm to a man who grew up on the mean streets of Dublin after the Urban Wars learning to pick pockets, run con games and run as fast as he could from the brutal fists of his late and entirely unlamented sperm donor, Patrick Roarke.

Well, neither Roarke nor his wife, NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas have anything good to say about Patrick Roarke. But, and this big butt is at the heart of this entire story, there is someone who does. Someone who has lurked in the shadows of Roarke’s past since his long ago and entirely too brief childhood.

Lorcan Cobbe served as an enforcer for the gang that Patrick Roarke ruled with an iron fist. A gang that included his son, pickpocket and budding expert thief Roarke. But Roarke, in spite of his father’s tendency to let his fists fly at any – or no – provocation, was the elder’s acknowledged son, where that acknowledgement was something that Cobbe not only envied but believed that he was owed.

The elder Roarke is gone, and good riddance, but Lorcan Cobbe believes that he is still owed, and that he’s going to get his long-delayed payback by killing Roarke. After first stripping from him everything he has earned and everything he holds dear, including his position, his fortune, his friends and definitely his wife.

But the years that Lorcan has spent in the shadows as one of the world’s best – and most expensive – contract killers are the same years that Roarke spent building a legitimate fortune, a circle of friends, a found family, and finding not only the birth family that his so-called father denied him but also making a life with the surprising love of his life, Eve Dallas.

They met over a dead body, as is fitting when one falls for a homicide cop. In the years since they’ve gathered a family, partly of blood and mostly of choice, of people who will walk through fire for either of them.

Cobbe has targeted both, and that family will take him down. Wherever that chase may lead them.

Escape Rating A-: I swallowed this book whole in a couple of lovely hours. I read this series not for the mystery aspect, but for the family-of-choice story. Twice a year I get to visit with these very good friends and see how they’re doing, and it’s marvelous every single time whether the mystery is compelling or merely a day’s work for Eve and company. This one was so compelling that I had to thumb to the end to make sure that the dark places it went too weren’t too utterly black. No one likes to see their friends, even their book-bound friends, suffer.

This one began with all the hallmarks of one of the series’ semi-regular trips to the angst factory. Both Eve and Roarke had abusive fathers – who dammitall knew each other – and both raised themselves with a bit of help from someone or something who gave them purpose. In Roarke’s case that someone was Summerset, now his majordomo, and in Eve’s case it was the NYPSD.

They should have remained on entirely different paths, but their meeting over a dead body in Naked in Death cemented both their fates and glued their futures together – and onto a single, surprisingly straight-and-kinda-narrow path for ex-thief Roarke.

This story in the series read as a big “payoff” for fans of the series. It’s an A- rating because as much as I absolutely adored it, this would be an impossible place to get into the series. This story works because it’s an all hands on deck story, where everyone who has ever gotten close to Eve and Roarke bands together to help them take out the threat. Readers who know where they came from, who have seen this disparate group bind themselves together over the course of the series, will love every minute of this story, while anyone who is not already steeped in the brew will not be nearly as moved.

This feels like a kind of closing off of the past. Roarke sees Cobbe and finds himself remembering parts of his own childhood that he buried long ago because they were too painful. Cobbe’s re-advent into his life gives him the opportunity to bring those parts into the light – and to see just how far he’s come and just how well he’s done for himself. Not in the financial sense because that was always his goal and he never lost sight of it, but in his heart and soul. His past was dark, and he needs to see it for what it was to appreciate just how much light he’s surrounded himself with and how truly wonderful it is.

The story contrasts Cobbe, whose professional persona falls apart when he goes after Roarke, with Roarke who realizes just how together he is, and just how many people are together with him. The ending is wonderfully cathartic, and I needed that even more than the characters in the story did.

This could have been the end of the series. The way the entire group comes together would have made a perfect stand up and cheer end for the whole thing and would have provided a terrific amount of closure all around. But I’m oh-so-glad that it isn’t. Eve and Roarke will be back this winter in Faithless in Death. And I already can’t wait to see the gang again!

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