The In Death series has been one of my favorites for the past 11 years (boy does that make me feel old). I can still remember the first time I read a full J.D. Robb novel–I was sitting in my backyard in New York, lounging on one of the chairs while my cousin was swimming in the pool. I was supposed to be watching her as the rest of the family was at work or waiting for one of my other cousins to be born, but I was more interested in what I was reading than in paying attention to her. Thankfully, she was almost 11 and a better swimmer than I was, so I didn’t really have to worry. Anyway, that first book was Betrayal in Death and while it isn’t one of my favorite books in the series (I tend to skip it whenever I do any re-reads), it held the right amount of catnip for me to get hooked. From that point on, I grabbed copies wherever I could, reading them in as best an order as I could. This is why it literally pains me to say that I absolutely hated Devoted in Death.
Eve Dallas has just landed a big case–a serial killing duo has set up a home in the New York City of 2061 and she and her team must catch them in order to save their most recent victims. Ella-loo and Darryl consider themselves in love and meant to be (gag me). To them, this means killing innocent people while on the worst cross country road trip ever. When they reach NYC, they know they’ve found a home. Unfortunately for them, they also found themselves the most dogged cop the NYPSD has and she won’t rest until they’re locked up for good.
This isn’t the worst plot I’ve ever read and I doubt that Nora could contrive a bad plot if she were tortured by two love sick psychopaths. It was, however, poorly executed. First, why did we need to know who the killers were before even opening the book? They’re on the cover copy for fuck’s sake! What good is a mystery when we’re clued in on who the bad guys are before the story even starts? It is like watching old episodes of Password on Gameshow Network and seeing the password flashed across the bottom of the screen–where is the fun in that? I want to play, dammit.
Aside from wanting to figure out the whodunit along with Eve, Roarke, et al, revealing who the killers are takes some of the urgency out of it. Sure, Eve is scrambling to find them, to get any clue to their identities that she possibly can, but I’m not. I’m sitting there trying to pay attention to the book and not to whatever drama is going on between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton on The Voice.
Another problem I had with the book was the glaring factual error that showed up early in the book and had me scratching my head, wondering how it could have gotten past not only Nora but editors, proof readers, and scores of people at Jove. What’s this error, you ask? Well, once Eve has clued in to the fact that there were two killers instead of one, she starts coming up with theories as to how they lure their victims to them and she figures that they do as Dahmer did and pretend to need help getting a piece of furniture into a van. The thing is that Dahmer was not the serial killer to do that. Bundy was. One of the things that Bundy liked to do was put his arm in a plaster cast and try to put a chair into his car, asking some poor woman for help when she crossed his path. Dahmer, on the other hand, trolled gay bars for his victims. How the hell do you confuse Bundy, slick Young Republican and wannabe lawyer, and Dahmer, anti-social candy factory employee and cannibal? How did no one catch this before it went to print? How? It boggles the mind.
Even with that, I was still planning on giving this at least 3 stars, which while not a great rating is about the same as I would give to many of the other In Death novels that have come out over the past five years or so. Then, nearing the end of the book, Eve and Roarke are trolling the area where they believe Darryl and Ella-loo are holed up with their newest victims and find a van that matches the one they believe they’re using. Instead of trying to get a warrant, which they wouldn’t get based on the evidence she had, they start looking in the windows and at one point Eve asks Roarke to open the passenger door for her. Holy 4th Amendment, Batman! I know they’ve used some sketchy methods of obtaining information in the past, but this goes well beyond anything they’ve ever done before and the first that they ever did out in public and not from behind Roarke’s unregistered computers. Sure, it was late, but NYC is the city that never fucking sleeps. Someone could have seen them and if that happened, Darryl and Ella-loo wouldn’t have seen the inside of a cage–on planet or off.
I did read until the end because I was hoping there would be some way to redeem this shit show, but nope. That never happened. The capture scene was completely unsatisfying and anti-climactic, the interview scenes felt drawn out, and I just didn’t care any more. All I wanted to know at that point was if poor Jayla (I know someone with this name and always thought her mother made it up, but I guess not) survived and whether or not Trueheart passed his detective’s exam.