Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Born In Death" by JD Robb (pub 2006)

If you have read any of the books in the " Death" series, you pretty well know how busy Lt. Eve Dallas, homice, NYPSD, can be. In this book the author decides that's not enough and really lays it on Eve Dallas, but on top of being busy this book is fun, especially at the end. I will warn you there is a bit of a spoiler in this review so you may not want to read the end. The spoiler will not be about the case(s) Dallas is working on but about her friend Mavis Freestone, the rockstar.

In the sci-fi world of Lt. Eve Dallas, cop work still comes down to talking to folks and in this case tracing the money. However, being the future and being married to Roarke (the wealthiest man on or off planet) there are some neat tools to help with the money trail. That is just what is needed here. Two accountants are found murdered and Dallas is primary detective on the cases. It seems as though the accountants found something big that could get someone in serious trouble, they were going to try to expose the criminals before going to the police. But that's what got them killed. Now Lt. Dallas has to find what they found.

On top of this Eve and Roarke are attending birthing coach classes, not because Eve is pregnant, but because her best friend Mavis Freestone, rockstar, vidstar and party animal is about to pop and wants Eve and Roarke to be there at the birthing, along with Mavis' cohab partner , fashion designer Leonardo. Eve and Roarke are horrified by the idea of being present at the birth, but will do this favor for their friend.

One of the women Mavis met at the coaching classes is a single woman who is also about to pop. Tandy has just moved to New York from London and is Mavis' pregnant pal. When Tandy doesn't show up to Mavis' baby shower, Mavis gets worried and as victim of hormones falls apart worrying about Tandy. She makes Dallas promise to find her. So now Dallas has 2 cases to work a double homicide case which turns up a third homicide, to find a missing person, and to be prepared to be Mavis' coach for the birth.

As it turns out the missing persons and the homicides seem to tie together. So strap yourself in for this thrill-a-second sci-fi detective novel by JD Robb.

Now for the somewhat of a spoiler portion of the review. One of the many things I've come to appreciate about this series of books is that they are well rounded in action, suspense, thrills, mystery and even some comedy. The comedy aspect really comes in to play at the end of this book when Mavis gives birth. The scene described with Dallas, Roarke, Somerset, Mavis, Leonard, et. al. is just some really good comedy that almost falls in the slapstick category. This scene alone made the entire book worth the read. There are some serious emotional highs in the finale of this book.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 9:34 PM Comments: 0

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Memory in Death" by J.D. Robb (pub. 2006)

In the " Death" series of books by J.D. Robb, Lt. Eve Dallas is one tough cop. She works homicide and sees death every day and in the year 2059 homicides occur in some very creative fashions. She has to be tough to bring down the criminals and to do right for the victims. One of the things that have made her the tough cop she is, is her dark past. She was abused by her father until she was 8 years old. To get away from him she killed 8 year old girl stabbing a man with a steak knife to keep from getting raped and beaten...that's tough. After she killed her father she was found wandering the streets. She was then put into the "system" and the State had her in and out of foster care. Now she is no longer a victim. She now stands for the victims and is better for it.

However we all know no matter how tough we may be, our pasts can come back to haunt us. That is just what happens to Eve Dallas in this book, "Memory in Death." Eve's nightmares did not end once she killed her father, in foster care she was abused as well. In this book Eve's first foster parent, Trudy Lombard, sees on the vidscreen the news reports of Eve and Roarke cracking the case of what is now international news of the cloning scandal. Trudy decides to take a vacation from Texas and take her son and daughter-in-law to New York to see how "their little Eve" is doing.

When Trudy makes a surprise visit to Eve's office Eve becomes overwhelmed by the horrid memories of the time with Trudy and becomes physically ill and demands Trudy to leave. Eve is so ill she leaves early, plopping the final touches of a case into Peabody's lap, with no explanation. When she gets home Roarke eases some of her illness by allowing Eve to talk about that dark part of memory he then gives her a soother and sends her to bed. You know Eve is ill when she takes a soother and goes to bed like that.

After hearing Eve's story, Roarke suspects Trudy had more up her sleeve than just reliving old times, and he's correct. Roarke sets up a meeting with Trudy and she reveals here true reason, to get some money or release Eve's old records, which she luckily has kept on all the kids she kept as a foster parent. After telling Roarke she wants $2 million, which is nothing to Roarke, Roarke threatens her and sends her running from his office. Side note here, the way Roarke threatens her is classic and that small scene alone is worth reading this book. Roarke has a way.

The next day Trudy is found dead by Eve, who wanted to tell her personally to go back to Texas. Eve discovers the body and immediately finds herself in the awkward position of trying to find a killer of someone she hates. As the investigation turns Eve finds that she was only one of many girls abused by Trudy Lombard's foster parenting, and all of them wanted her dead. But which one did it?

This is one great whodunit. Less on the sci-fi as some of the other books, but a great mystery.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 6:43 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Origin in Death" by J.D. Robb (pub. 2005)

I'm continuing in my quest to read all the books in the " Death" series by J.D. Robb, a.k.a. Nora Roberts. This is the sci-fi series about NYPSD Lt. Eve Dallas, Homicide division. Lt. Dallas kicks butt and takes names, most of the time she forgets the pencil, but she always gets the job done. I accidentally read one of these books thinking it was just a straight sci-fi detective book. I was surprised to find they were written by romance/thriller writer Nora Roberts. I'm glad I have discovered these books. They are fun and full of excitement. Especially this one.

"Origin in Death," I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the best book in the series. This has got all the great stuff of a great sci-fi/Detective novel. In fact this book would give Isaac Asimov and his R. Daneel Olivaw books a good run for the money. Great gadgets, great sci-fi/bordering on "could happen now" plot and, as with all the books, great action/thrills.

A well known doctor of cosmetic surgery is found murdered. The murder all points to a professional hit. The murderer was in, murdered with one stab of a scalpel, and out with no detection and within a matter of minutes. The murderer is caught on all security cameras and is an extremely beautiful woman. Her face does not turn up in any face recognition databases but her ID used to get past the 'droid and human security makes her to be a resident of Madrid, Spain.

This doctor, Doctor Icove, and his son, Dr. Icove, Jr. run a unique center which not only is the place for vidstars to get work done in complete privacy but also gives back to the community in many ways, donations of money and surgery for victims. The good doctors are saints. But Eve Dallas doesn't believe anyone can have that perfect of a record. Something has to be hidden, and to solve this homicide Eve will have to find that something.

Eve finds secret files in Icoves computers and these files refer to numerous cases of women ages 17-22 in which the records not only list healt records but IQ results. Not normal for cosmetic surgery. The first suspicion is that the doctor was experimenting with 'droid/human hybrids, which were outlawed back in the 2030's. But after following the money trail even more of a danger is discovered. After Dr. Icove Jr. is found murdered, Eve now has 2 murders that lead to a hidden institution and dangerous cloning experiments.

One thing I've always mentioned when writing about these books is the great characterization Robb/Roberts has created within these books. One of my favorites is Eve's husband Roarke. To some Roarke may be the "deus ex machina," because he is one of the wealthiest men on and off planet and that he has some of the coolest gadgets. Roarke is always at Eve's disposal and they make a great crimefighting team. Oh yeah that and his former criminal side sneaks in every so often, for example, his unregistered computer system that can find anyone and anything without being detected by CompuGuard.

As a side note, if you like audiobooks or would like to give audiobooks a try, I HIGHLY recommend checking these out. They are read by Susan Ericksen, and she provides great vocal qualities to each character so that you feel as if you are listening to a radio play.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 8:35 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Visions in Death" by J. D. Robb (pub. 2004)

Once again the butt-kicking NYPSD cop, Lt. Eve Dallas, is primary on a series of murders. The murders seem to be some sort of work of a serial killer. All victims are brutally raped and beaten then murdered and their eyes removed. Sounds like a grisly case and yes it is. This time around Dallas gets some help from a psychic who is seeing visions of the murders.

The psychic is pretty much only affirming what Dallas and her partner Detective Peabody already know, the murderer is a man who has a vengeance against women and is really, really big in size and strength. The key to wrapping this case will be the murder weapon, red chording, which is used to strangle and then tie the victims in a praying position for discovery. The chording is found in most craft stores, but Dallas uses all her faculties to wrap this one. Besides that this is the future and computers are much more powerful and everything is accessible.

One thing with all the " Death" books by J.D. Robb is that there is always some sort of separate meaning to the books. In this one it is the definition and discovery of friendship. Because of her troubled life Dallas has never allowed herself to have friends, not close ones anyway. This book develops as Dallas is discovering how tight her circle of friends really is and the strong bonds held between them. She also tells Peabody the entire story of her past in forming a tighter bond with her police partner and friend.

Peabody becomes a target of the murderer and (spoiler alert here!!!!) she is severely beaten and ends up in the hospital. The friendships and bonds become even more clear at this point and the extremely well written characters in the series all surround Peabody in her hospital room as she recovers and the reader is given the great treat of really feeling like being a part of the scene.

With that spoiler alert I will also let hang this; there is a great twist at the end of the book so just when you think the crime is solved and the murderer put away.....hang on to your socks.

I've somewhat complained in the past about the fact that these books are really written by romantic thriller author Nora Roberts, and that she always throws in the romance in the books. In this book she really makes it work with the discovery of friendship and I really appreciated that. I still am not fond of all the sex in these books. Don't get me wrong, I'm by no means a prude, but I just don't like reading about folks having sex, bordering on the erotica, the sex scenes in these books allow me to skip several pages and getting the book read much faster.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 11:31 PM Comments: 0

Friday, June 06, 2008

Isaac Asimov's Robot City book 4 "Prodigy" by Athur Byron Cover (pub. 1988)

The experiment continues in the 4th installment of Isaac Asimov's Robot City. 5 authors were instructed to write novels in the 6 book series and stay within the parameters set by Asimov in his 3 laws of Robotics. Each one of these books explores a different what if. In this book the what if is, "What if robots could develop an artistic sense and a sense of humor?" That is what keeps humans human is that we can express our emotions through art and that we have a sense of humor. Can a purely logic functioning robot be funny or creative?

In "Prodigy" the robots seem to have found a creative outlet, at least a choice few. While Derec is contemplating a way to get off the planet of robots a strange light comes from the center of the city/planet. The source of the light seems to be emanating from a strange cube. Derec along with Ariel, the robot Mandelbrot, and the alien Wolruff, head toward the cube only to find that the residents of robot city also seem to be curious and heading that way as well.

At the center of town is a cube displaying many patterns of lights and colors and can only be described as a piece of art. But who created this art? As it turns a robot created the work and not only has a robot shown creativity and independent thinking but another group of artists/robots (later named the 3 cracked cheeks) Benny, Harry and M334 are working on developing a combination music (swing/jazz) and comedy team. Of course subtleties such as sarcasm need a human fine touch, so they ask Derec for some help. Curious as to how robots could have developed such "human traits" Derec agrees to help so he can also explore this phenomenon.

The artist responsible for the cube of art, Lucius, also holds Derec's interest and Derec sets up some time with Lucius to study his positronic brain paths to find how this has happened. Before Derec can meet with Lucius, Ariel discover's Lucius' deactivated and destroyed body at the bottom of a reservoir. So now a mystery is afoot.

The 3 laws of robotics do not prevent a robot from destroying another robot, but Derec finds the idea appalling and sets out to get the robot responsible to find the error in his way. He suspects a robot by the name of Canute and to expose the robot Derec takes the development of creative robots one step further and has a theatre built and trains the robots in the fine art of acting. The play performed, "Hamlet" is set to expose Canute. At this point it is neat to point out the aspect of the play within the play of Hamlet was set to expose the murderous Claudius, and Canute is to portray Claudius.

After the play is performed the creator of Robot City, Dr. Avery, returns and is upset at Derec and Ariel for destroying his Robot City Experiment.

Next....Book 5.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 9:14 PM Comments: 0

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Divided in Death" by JD Robb (aka Nora Roberts) (pub. 2004)

Once again JD Robb brings us to the "near" future to investigate a crime with NYPSD's toughest cop, Lt. Eve Dallas. This time, as has happened to Eve before this homicide investigation leads to Roarke, Eve's extremely wealthy husband. This time however the victim is the husband of one of Roarke's Security geek employees, Reva Ewing, and the scene is set up to look like Reva killed her husband and best friend after finding they were sleeping with each other.

Before I get to the crime of passion that is a poorly set up frame job, let me tell you about these books. The "...In Death" series of book all revolve around Lt. Eve Dallas and are set about 50+ years from now. Just far enough into the future for some really cool gadgets that I as a sci-fi geek love. This book especially brings out the geek in me because the crime turns out to involve a government agency that evolved out of Homeland Security, and the operatives are now referred to as spies or spooks. One of the reasons Reva Ewing is targeted for the fram is that she is working for Roarke on a "Code Red" Project. This project is to create a shield for a computer worm that would possibly bring down every network in the world. Roarke's company along with many others are contracted through several world governments to create the shield. Roarke's is the one that seems close to cracking the code and blocking the worm.

Through some serious technology and some good old fashioned cop-work Lt. Eve Dallas and her team of Electronics Division Detectives Feeney & McNabb and her assistant the new Detective Peabody and Civilians from Roarke's company the true killer is brought down. But the fun doesn't end there.

Another aspect of these books I've found interesting is that the title of the book is usually a great clue as to how the crime started or will be solved. In this one, however, that is not the case. In this book, the title refers to a subplot created that puts a wedge between Eve and Roarke and has the potential to destroy their marriage. Keep in mind that JD Robb is actually Nora Roberts and Nora Roberts is a romance/thriller writer. Well the romance comes out in this one in the form of Roarke and Eve working out their problems.

From reading previous "...In Death" books it is learned that Eve Dallas, as a child, was a victim of beatings and rapes by her father before she stabbed him to death and became a ward of the state. In this book it is found out that Homeland Security had her father under surveillance and knew what was going on in the home and to the child now known as Eve Dallas. But the kicker is that Homeland Security allowed it to continue, and even cleaned up after Eve killed her father. Here is where the wedge comes in. Roarke, wants revenge and finds the names of the folks that allowed this to happen and threatens to "make them pay." Eve cannot allow this to happen and the two start avoiding each other. Very interesting subplot here.

As I've always said these books are great sci-fi cop thrillers with some romance thrown a little something for everyone. Do yourself a favor and pick up one in the series...if not this one...and get hooked.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 6:48 PM Comments: 0