Monday, November 29, 2010

In Death Challenge Post: November 2010

Interested in joining the In Death Series Reading Challenge? Anyone is welcome to join in at any time of the year at wherever in the series you currently are. See the sign up post HERE and join the fun.

This is the 11th monthly round up post of the In Death Reading Challenge. Hopefully that means you've read at least 11 In Death books since January. If not, hopefully you've read at least one?

Link up any In Death posts you made this month at the bottom of this post. If you made a post on your blog whether it be a review or commentary, please grab the link to your post and enter in the Mr. Linky below along with your name so we can find each other's latest In Death posts easily.

If you're just keeping a running list of the books as you read them, grab the link to your list post and enter in the Mr. Linky so we can recognize your success this month.

If you're reading or rereading without documenting it on your blog, let me know in the comments which book(s) you read in this month. This will also help me keep track of who's eligible for the challenge giveaway in December!

NOTE: In order to be eligible for the challenge giveaway in December 2010, you must have read four In Death books between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 and have documented that you have either on your own blog or on my blog within the comments of the monthly In Death Reading Challenge posts.

Portrait In Death by J.D. Robb
Book 18

It's August 2059 and the sweltering heat and humidity in New York City is making everyone edgy and short tempered. Lieutenant Eve Dallas, the NYPSD's lead homicide detective, discovers the body of a young woman who was killed and stuffed into a dumpster in an alley downtown after Dallas' friend and TV news reporter Nadine Furst received an anonymous tip and a set of portraits of the victim. The young woman was a pretty, wholesome college student with a solid family life and a bright future ahead of her. Soon a second young life is taken in a similar fashion, this one also tipped to Nadine Furst and also accompanied by a set of portraits. Eve and her investigative team race to solve the crime before more young lives are taken, which proves to be difficult as the victims had only their youth and vitality in common, their occasional visits to data clubs frequented by college students, and that they were both recently photographed professionally.

On the personal level, Roarke meets the head crisis counselor at Douchas which is the center recently established for battered women, funded by Roarke and Eve under the direction of their trusted friend Dr. Louise Dimatto, and this counselor shares some startling information with Roarke about his past. At first, Roarke denies the plausibility of these allegations, but he cannot ignore the possibility that they may be true, so he investigates them on his own, the results of which turn his world upside down. Speaking of upside down, Summerset takes a serious fall on the stairs of their home hours before he is to leave for a three week vacation. He's hospitalized and then released to recover at home with a full time nurse attending him. Needless to say, everyone's world falling apart, and ironically, it's Eve who keeps "their family" from falling apart in all this mess.

The crime fiction and personal components were very well balanced in this installment. I was also rather glad that Eve and her team handled this investigation almost entirely without Roarke posing as their civilian consultant. Portrait in Death also pleasantly surprised me with it's emotional impact The murder mystery was decent on its own merit, but I think it was improved upon by the way it tied so well with the personal issues going on in Eve and Roarke's world in this story. Also, the denouement of the actual capture of the murderer was one of the more exciting ones. The new revelations about Roarke's past and how it threw Roarke for a loop, nearly pushed he and Eve apart, but in turn brought them together in such a beautiful way, was definitely a highlight of this novel. There was plenty of emotional punch with these discoveries and consequently some very emotional and sweet moments between Eve and Roarke. It was especially striking to see Roarke so vulnerable and off his mark and Eve the one grounding him. There was also a tender albeit stark scene in which Eve has to tell someone she knows that their loved one has been murdered and brings him to the morgue to identify the victim. Very heart wrenching and made me admire and love Eve all the more.

On the lighter side of things, Portrait in Death had some one liners and small scenes that made me smile and giggle out loud--often right in the middle of a scene that already had me shedding some tears over a serious emotional moment. I love when a book does that to me. For example, in one scene, Roarke, who is in Ireland at the time, calls home to check in with Eve and he is piss drunk-- a tremendous rarity for the man who is always in control. Eve has never seen Roarke foolishly drunk and gets a little worried for his safety.

Eve says,

"Don't go anywhere tonight. Promise me you'll stay in Brian's flat. Drink yourself unconscious but don't go anywhere."
"Not going anywhere till tomorrow. Heading west tomorrow."
"West?" She got an image of cattle ranches and mountains and long, empty fields. "Where? What, Montana?"
He laughed until she'd thought he'd burst. "Christ, is it any wonder I'm besotted with you? West in Ireland, my darling, darling Eve. [...] "

To someone who doesn't read this series, maybe this scene isn't very amusing, but if you know Eve, you know how easily she is freaked out by anything to do with nature and countrysides--heck anything outside of a city. And then there's Roarke who never gets sloppy drunk and off his game. Even though he's the one being a bit foolish, she's the one who panics about the countryside and thinks Montana when he's in Ireland saying he's going west in the morning. LOL!

A moment or two later in their conversation, Eve hears a loud crash in the background and asks Roarke what it was.

"Ah, Brian's down, and appears to have taken a table and lamp with him. Passed out flat on his face, poor sod. I'd best go try to haul his ass up and into bed. I'll ring you up tomorrow. See that you take care of my cop. I can't live without her."
"Take care of my drunk Irishman. I can't live without him either."
He blinked those blurry eyes in confusion. "What, Brian?"
"No, you idiot. You."
"Oh." He grinned at her again, so foolishly her throat burned. "That's good then. Makes us even. 'Night now."
"Good night." She stared at the blank screen, wishing she could just reach through it and haul him back to where he belonged.

I love that scene. It's all sweet and romantic and they make me laugh. :)


Eve is a smart, complex woman who continues to delight me in every installment. She makes think when she's on a case, she makes me laugh and she makes me cry. I enjoy watching her evolve as she grows as a detective, a friend, a colleague, a wife and as an individual. Sometimes gracefully and at other times rather clumsily, but she always owns it and I admire her for that.

I love how Eve is naive about a lot of things in history from the early 21st century, anything to do with babies, nature, or anything outside of city life. How she doesn't know about so many things she ought to have learned as a child like games, treats, movies, literature, etc. It's heartbreaking to know Eve missed out on childhood entirely, but at the same time often very funny when Roarke makes reference to something and she's clueless. Like when he teasingly suggests they play Cribbage to pass the time alone together and she gets suspicious that it's some sexual game. Of course, it's even more amusing when Roarke laughs at her and doesn't bother to correct her. At least not straight away.

What are some of your favorite things about Eve?

Is there a particular scene that you find amusing on Eve's behalf?


  1. You're moving right along! I really enjoyed reading the In Death series over a long summer a couple of years ago. I hate now that I have to wait between books. I'm glad you're enjoying the series!

  2. Man! I'm not done yet! I'm working on it though. I promise to have it up by the first.... I think.
    I love her! She's the best!! It's funny because I do the teaser tuesdays and have so much trouble selecting just one from the in death book I read every month. I'm only on page 60 in Betrayal, have three selected, and have told myself no to at least three others.
    I agree with your favorite things. Her fears of what most of us consider natural are hilarious. I have a very low tolerance for people. I have a few select people that I like (most are online) and I love it that way... except when I need an ear. I just don't have a Mavis or Peabody. Maybe I should marry Roarke & hop on over to your place... I love plenty close to their author's lair!

  3. I enjoyed this book. As you said, it's really nice to see Roarke so vulnerable and relinquishing control...I've been having issues with him lately so am hoping in the next book I read (yes, I will be reading an In Death book next month - Fantasy in Death :) he is a bit more like he is in Portrait in Death. One can hope :)

  4. I'm sad to say I didn't read an ID novel this month. I started it earlier, but I won't be able to read it by the end of the day. My whole month seems to have gone with erotic novels ;) But now that I've read your review and people's thoughts, they've really made me grab it again. I'll continue with the story this evening - I promise!

    My favorite things about Eve… It must be that she's so complex. If I think about how tough she is, how cool and collected she can be at the scene, how she sometimes seems too emotionless, I almost feel frightened of her. I don't know if I could be friends with such a kick ass person. But then she goes and shows yet another side to her, being all vulnerable, being in love even though it scares her, caring for her friends… I love seeing how her love for Roarke makes her in the same time "weak" and strong. She's feeling things she's never felt before, she sometimes doesn't know what to do with them, but in the end I see that her loving someone and being loved by someone has made her stronger in a way…

    Christine, those scenes you wrote, they were so awesome. Thanks for sharing them! I haven't written down any amusing scenes, only a few very tender, romantic ones… And one with Summerset. I'll write it here because it's one of the shorter ones…:

    “What he feels for you overwhelms him,” Summerset began. “There was never anyone else. The women who came and went before you were diversions, temporary interests. He might care, because despite everything that was done to him, he’s a man with large capacity for caring. And still, there was no one before you. Don’t you see how he worries?”
    ---Seduction in Death: when Eve is really sick during a murder investigation and Roarke is worried about her. Summerset is trying to explain why Roarke is acting in a certain way…

  5. Phyl... I'm so glad I made this challenge up, because I don't know if I'd be as consistent as I have been about reading them as the months go by. There are SO many books calling to me every month, it's hard to choose sometimes!

    Gina... I'm glad you're enjoying the series as well. Some books have more quotes and scenes that grab me than others. Portrait in Death seemed to have quite a few funny lines and emotional scenes.

    orannia... I was glad to see Roarke back off from the civilian consultant deal he does. It was starting to be rather unrealistic. Good luck with Fantasy In Death. I hope you enjoy it.

    Maija... No worries if you skip a month in the challenge. You have had some months where you've read more than one book!

    There was a quote on Amazon from Publisher's Weekly about Eve that worked well for me:

    "Intensely female yet unfeminine in any traditional sense, Dallas has a complex edge that transcends genre stereotypes… "-- Publishers Weekly, starred review, February 24, 2003

    It works, right?

    The quote you share from Summerset is a good one. I remember that scene. There are some good scenes between Eve & Summerset in Portrait as well that I think you'll love.

  6. The scene where Summerset realizes that Eve has nightmares? And then later finds out why? THAT made me cry. What makes me laugh? When in one of the Holiday stories she shops without actually trying all the while complaining about it and picks out perfect gifts. Her fear of Trina and the make-up/hair sessions. To me the series is almost perfect and I don't see stopping reading it anytime soon. *g*
    Your post was eloquent and touching.

    Hope you're having a fabulous start to the week!

  7. I read Betrayal this month and didn't love it. I need to catch up with you so that we're writing about the same book! It's more fun that way!

  8. I read Indulgence in Death as soon as it got out--these and Nora's single titles are the only books I'm still buying in hardback these days.

    I confess that I wasn't as thrilled with Indulgence as I've been with some other In Death books, but it's a solid installment, particularly good as it pertains the relationships between the characters (both as couples and as friends). After the partial disappointment of Fantasy in Death, this one was a huge improvement and an enormous relief for me!

    Like you, I love Eve; she's a great character. I would like her as a friend even though she's probably not very comfortable to be around for long stretches at once :grin:

    And it always makes me laugh when she gets her history/popular culture references wrong (in IiD, there's a moment when she makes a reference Clue by saying, "Major Ketchup in the bathroom with the laser scalpel." Totally cracked me up!

  9. I read Indulgence too and like Azteclady, thought it was solid but not a fav.

    It starts with Eve & Roarke in Ireland. Lots of pastures & animals. The cows freak Eve out. LOL

    I love it when Eve bitches about having friends and the general conventions of friendship. She'll say something like "Who makes these rules anyway?"


    I'm always laughing when Peabody & McNab's sex life comes up. Eve turns into a nun with her disgust over hearing about it. :)

  10. I read the Midnight in Death novella in November although I didn't have the time to post a review or mini.

    I loved the way this story picked up right where Holiday in Death ended and covered the time between Christmas and New Year's and thought the continuation of Eve and Roarke's holidays, as well as Eve & Peabody's struggles to recover was well done by Robb. I liked the way they worked the crime investigation, and the continued "family" theme in this book (Roarke, Mira, etc.).

    I love the way Eve goes into "mother" role with Peabody and McNabb when they start acting out. "Now, children...."

  11. Nod nod. Me, I love the mystery aspect of Portrait in Death, especially because it involves Trueheart and Baxter :P LOL, the comic duo :P However, I know this one rates high because of the emotional element which was very interesting.

    I just love Eve's no-nonsense attitude :) And her fear of non-NY element. Seriously, it's just priceless LOL.

  12. Although I enjoy the In Death series, I'm the first to admit not all of them are top quality. This one is an exception. Indulgence in Death revisits a theme Robb has addressed before: the games of the idle and the spoiled. This time around it's a twist on the idea of hunting humans for sport -- not a novel idea but a good solid one for Eve Dallas.


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