#BookReview: Random in Death by J.D. Robb

#BookReview: Random in Death by J.D. RobbRandom in Death (In Death, #58) by J.D. Robb
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: futuristic, mystery, romantic suspense, suspense, thriller
Series: In Death #58
Pages: 368
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 23, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books
Goodreads

In the new crime thriller from #1 New York Times-bestselling J.D. Robb, a small and easily concealed weapon wreaks havoc, and the killer is just a face in the crowd.
Jenna’s parents had finally given in, and there she was, at a New York club with her best friends, watching the legendary band Avenue A, carrying her demo in hopes of slipping it to the guitarist, Jake Kincade. Then, from the stage, Jake catches her eye, and smiles. It’s the best night of her life.It’s the last night of her life.
Minutes later, Jake’s in the alley getting some fresh air, and the girl from the dance floor comes stumbling out, sick and confused and deathly pale. He tries to help, but it’s no use. He doesn’t know that someone in the crowd has jabbed her with a needle—and when his girlfriend Nadine arrives, she knows the only thing left to do for the girl is call her friend, Lieutenant Eve Dallas.
After everyone on the scene is interviewed, lab results show a toxic mix of substances in the victim’s body—and for an extra touch of viciousness, the needle was teeming with infectious agents. Dallas searches for a pattern: Had any boys been harassing Jenna? Was she engaging in risky behavior or caught up in something shady? But there are no obvious clues why this levelheaded sixteen-year-old, passionate about her music, would be targeted.
And that worries Dallas. Because if Jenna wasn’t targeted, if she was just the random, unlucky victim of a madman consumed by hatred, there are likely more deaths to come.

My Review:

The case in Random in Death turns out to be, well, just a bit random. Even more random than I thought it would turn out to be. Which I’ll get back in a bit.

A young woman is having the night of her life. Her favorite band is onstage, performing a free concert just for the under-21 non-drinking crowd at the place where the band got their start. Jenna Harbrough a musician herself, and a dedicated one, and she’s hoping for the opportunity to give her demo disk to the band’s lead singer.

Because if he hears it, she knows she’ll get her shot at the bright lights, just like the members of Avenue A did twenty years ago.

It’s not hyperbole, or youthful wishing thinking. She’s got everything it takes to make it to the top. Except time.

Jenna is killed that night by someone who cares nothing for her, her dreams, her life – or honestly even her death. All that matters to him is that she is just the kind of girl who would never give him the time of day – just like everyone else in his life.

So he cuts her down and plans to do it again and again until someone finally sees him for who and what he really is. For ALL the possible meanings of that. He believes that when he’s finished he’ll get what he deserves.

And he will. Eve Dallas, the entire Homicide Unit of the NYPSD, and all of the people she has gathered around herself, are going to make damn sure of it.

Escape Rating B: Learning how all my ‘book friends’ were doing in this latest entry in the In Death series (after last fall’s Payback in Death) was the perfect read for me at the end of this week. This series is a comfort read for me, and my brain was pretty much TOAST. Burnt toast, at that.

But this is a rare case where the timing was perfect for falling into the familiarity of it all, but the book I fell into wasn’t. Perfect, that is.

The books in this series usually contain two elements, one being the case that Dallas and Company have to solve, and the other being what’s going on with everyone in their constantly expanding found fam.

This particular entry in the series was great – as always – on the found fam side of the equation, but the case, not so much.

Because the villain really was exactly what the kids who knew him claimed he was. He was a dooser. What’s a dooser, you’re asking? As did Dallas, Roarke and every other adult who became part of finding this dooser.

Dooser is one of those on the nose portmanteau words, in this case a combination of ‘dick’ and ‘loser’. Because he so very much embodies that combination. Which is what ultimately catches him up and brings him down.

And it kind of blunts the impact of his crime spree, because he’s just so very ‘lame’, to use vernacular that is closer to our time than theirs.

Because his victims were not exactly as random as we’d like them to be, at least not to anyone other than him. The case would have been more riveting if he’d been a bit more competent at it. Not that I actually want serial killers to be more competent, but once Dallas had one thread to pull his whole house of cards came down very, very fast.

The leading cause of death among women is men – and this is such a prime, chilling example of that. Particularly at the beginning, when it seemed like he was deliberately cutting down young women who are focused on their future careers and NOT looking for so-called traditional roles..

He wasn’t just killing them – he was killing their promise and their future and their possibilities and it seemed deliberate. Except that’s not what this villain cared about at all. Because he’s just a dooser incel who’s gone apeshit because he’s certain that he is absolutely entitled to the sex they’re not putting out for him – but are for everyone else. Hell, just for the fact that they’re not even noticing he exists.

So for all of his meticulous planning and serious science smarts, he was, in the end, just a loser. So it’s no surprise at all that Dallas put him in a cage. It didn’t even seem like it was all that hard to catch him, because he made so many mistakes from his very first murder. His crime spree was terrible, and the clock ticking was very loud, but he was such a loser that the mystery of the thing faded relatively quickly.

But it was still a whole lot of fun to see the progress being made on the house that Mavis and Leonardo are building to share with Peabody and McNab, that Jenkinson is rapidly filling the shoes that his promotion to Detective Sergeant entitles him to, and that there’s every bit as much romance – if not a little bit more – in Dallas’ and Roarke’s marriage.

And especially that Galahad is still very much, large, in charge, and all CAT. Just the way he should be.

The next book in the In Death series is Passions in Death, coming in September. I can’t wait to see what case and/or crisis Dallas and Company have to face next!

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