Sunday, January 25, 2015

My 5 Least Favorite In Death Books

As mentioned in a previous POST, I’m slowly crawling my way back to catching up on J. D. Robb’s In Death series after a two-year break. I'm currently two books away, before the 40th book is released next month. Excited? Yeah. I suppose. It does feel nice to be back in NYPSD homicide lieutenant Eve Dallas’s futuristic world. It’s great to see her fight crime alongside the cast of equally (well, a handful of them) entertaining characters. Nevertheless, all that is neither here nor there at the moment. What I present in this post is my Top 5 Least Favorite In Death books–out of the 37 that I've devoured so far. Because I started the series and read a few of these books years ago, I'm really working with memory (as well as a touch of residual emotions) here. Therefore, I may not be specific as to why I didn't like these books. It could be something as simple as a bad line of dialogue. Or an even worst, a dull-ass ending. So I'm just going to shoot from the hip and hope that some of you In Death fans can encourage me to re-read them, should I sound misled. Conversely, if you can relate, share in my dislike of these particular chapters of Eve Dallas’s saga. Anyway, let’s roll!

1. Imitation in Death (In Death #17)

Okay, a killer wearing a cape and top hat decides he wants to jump outside of the year 2059 and back into 1888. Why? Because he wants to imitate the infamous Jack the Ripper. You know? The East End of London’s own serial killer. Nonetheless, in the same fashion as Jack the Ripper, this killer takes it upon himself to target a prostitute. When Eve Dallas arrives to investigate said prostitute's death, she discovers a letter addressed to her. It’s the killer nudging her to follow his stream of copycat killings–as if it’s all a game dedicated to testing her skills.

What I didn't like about this book? For starters, having read the first 16 books to this point, I wasn't disappointed once. Then this dull brick of a book fell and killed my high. I was simply bored with Imitation in Death. Or maybe I was burnt out. Nevertheless, while this series is police procedural, my biggest discontent came with how Imitation consisted of Eve going around in circles interviewing suspects, repeatedly. It was a loop. Interview after interview. Nothing exciting. Just a dull stream of interviews until she finally capped her killer.  This has stuck with me since I walked away from this chapter in her saga.

2.  Born in Death (In Death #23)

Eve’s good friend and popstar, Mavis, is about to have a baby.  Attending a birthing class, she meets another mom-to-be name Tandy Willowby.  When Tandy doesn’t attend Mavis’s baby shower, Mavis gets worried.  You see, Tandy came to New York from London.  She doesn’t know many people, and definitely doesn’t have any family in America.  Super concerned, Mavis ask Eve to look into the missing Tandy.  Find out what happened to her.  While it’s a situation better for Missing Persons, Eve takes on Mavis’s request and eventually finds herself confronted with a new murder case.

Well, it’s no surprise that I dislike Mavis more than any character in this series (outside of the killers).  Since I started reading the In Death books, I've found Mavis mostly obnoxious and corny.  She rolls onto her scenes dancing and saying stuff like “mag” and “steller.”  And while she has a dark past, it’s hardly even used to fill her development out.  So when she tries to pin Eve into working in an area outside of her own department, you can bet I was irritated.  A book sub-featuring lots of Mavis.  Yay.  Not!  And just to be clear, Born in Death probably deserves a re-read.  A small part of me remembers liking the actual case.

3.  Kindred in Death (In Death #29)

A newly promoted NYPSD captain decides to go on vacation with his wife, leaving behind their sixteen-year-old daughter.  Upon their return, they find their daughter has been brutally murdered in her own bedroom.

My mood is still flat and apathetic towards Kindred in Death. Which is kind of strange when this is probably one of Eve Dallas’s top grizzliest cases, and should've been some kind of stakes-driven thrill ride. Nonetheless, the only thing I can really remember regarding this particular case is a jogger and the return of the techno geek character Jamie. And something else about, through a stream of arduous canvass interviews, a witness spotting said jogger possibly fleeing the crime scene.  Eve and her crew squeezed every bit of potential evidence out of his singular event.  It lead them in the right direction, but I found it a headache getting through this case from this point forward.  So at last, I can summarize my feelings about Kindred in Death in two words: a stretch. I just didn't seem to click with this book.  A small part of me has to blame the previous book, Promises in Death. Promises was such an emotional ride that I actually dropped a tear at its end. This one was just a disappointingly dry "meh." One in which I'm currently convinced that I skipped a couple of pages out of boredom.

4.  Indulgence in Death (In Death #31)

Random thrill kills suddenly take over New York, and Eve eventually finds herself at Coney Island uncovering the next murder inside of a house of horrors owned by her husband, Roarke. It appears that these murders are flavored with expensive taste. From the antique crossbow used to kill a limo driver, to the bayonet relic used to stab a high-class prostitute. There’s a pattern somewhere in all this chaos, one involving money, power and status. The killings are a game. They're someone’s personal indulgence.

Spoiled, rich men with nothing to do but play games by killing people more or less sums up Indulgence in Death. It’s nothing all that new in the In Death series, but slightly twisted in this case. However, not twisted enough, as you have to put up with their one-dimensional smugness throughout the book. Nevertheless, Indulgence opens with Eve and Roarke visiting bits of his family in Ireland. Coincidentally, they become involved with a murder case. Eve uses that moment to coach the green-around-the-ears Irish cop at the scene. And once the murder is wrapped, you'd think it would deepen and sedge its way into the murders that takes place in New York. It doesn't, really. It was a thing to probably gold-star Eve’s amazing-ness as a homicide lieutenant. Other than that, I think I of zoned out on this one because of the often exasperating subject of how Roarke owns everything–including the house of horrors where one of the victims lie. In retrospect, it may have been the fun house’s security that he owns. Even so, he's forever in the economic pot. Even down to this small, itemized occurrence. The last thing that made me smirk was a scene where Eve didn't understand the purpose of a pair of BBQ tongs–or something to that nature. Regardless, it's not always cute when Eve acts as if she doesn't understand the simplest things outside of her occupation.

5.  New York to Dallas (In Death #33)

Twelve years ago, rookie cop Eve Dallas had an encounter with a serial killer named Isaac McQueen. Subsequently, McQueen is sent to prison for eternity. Until he escapes with the objective of exacting revenge on Eve. His trail leads him to Dallas, the place where, as a young child, Eve was found wandering its streets after murdering her malevolence father. Gotten wind of McQueen’s escape, Eve heads to Dallas to put an end to his escape. Only to find that McQueen’s accomplice is Eve’s biological mother, Stella.

The whopper of all of my disappointments. While I'm kind of over it, it’s still hard for me to talk about this book without expressing rage. This was the book that made me realize that even after 32 books, this series would never reach the heights or depths I’d hoped for it. It was always going to be a slow-burning series. Torpid in a sense, but a fun ride. A series you have to take case-by-case, book-by-book. However, the ultimate publisher’s money machine. New York to Dallas was the book that made me read one more, then take that two-year hiatus from the series. To me, New York to Dallas was the perfect opportunity to breathe a whole new life/level into the series, but instead it seemed to have sucked away the series’ last breathe before everything returned to its basics. And hardly un-bothered, I may add. It’s that glass ceiling that never got broken. Chipped. Nowhere near a crack.

New York to Dallas was an anti-climactic conclusion to a huge piece of Eve’s history. Even Roarke’s history had a better treatment. Nonetheless, this was all my fault. I went into New York to Dallas thinking I was going to get something similar to Tess Gerritsen’s Body Double. Or something along the lines of J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton. Thinking I was going to get my meat and potatoes and instead got a cabbage.  But, alas, I'm over it. Mostly anyway.  What I can say is that my concerns with how Eve deals with her past has changed a touch in the proceeding books.  There's no more nightmares and ruminating on the past; instead, she's "conversing" with it.  And I'm cool with that.

Well, that's it.  These are the 5 In Death books that immediately comes to mind when I think about rotten apples in the series.  Only 5 out of the extensive number isn't bad.  Or not steep enough for me to totally stop reading the series.  I started reading In Death at an interesting time in my life, so its brought me comfort over the years.  It's funny because I remember being unmoved by the first book, then four months later I was pumping gas and something kept telling me to go to the bookstore and pick up the second book.  It sort of shined on me with such clarity.  So it's a relationship, I suppose.  And with all relationships, comes issues.

Now share with me your least favorites in the comments below.

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