I know that JD Robb has received some criticism about the formula of this book, but in all fairness, she knows her readership very well. Certain things are expected and would be missed if not included in the storyline. The Eve Dallas characters function much like a family, and while we get the usual sexual tension between Eve and Roarke, bloody murder and the solving of the case, we also get to see that the characters are progressing. Eve isn't having quite so many nightmares about the bad old days, Trueheart is going for promotion and the whole 'family' has a part to play in the outcome - one way or another. it is formulaic, but this is driven by readers expectations, and on its' own, 'Calculated' stands as a ripping good yarn. Robb writes very well, and whether you like this kind of novel or not, she is a master of her craft. I enjoyed this immensely and look forward to the next instalment!
It must be a challenge to JD Robb to come up with a new plot and some exciting action after she has written so many books about Eve and Roarke, and especially since since when knows that most readers who pick up this book will have read all or most of its predecessors. I have read all these books, most of them several times, and I have to say that I was disappointed with this installment as it lacked anything fresh or particularly exciting - I rather got the feeling that the book was written to a formula and that little original thought had gone into it.
When a book is the latest in a long series then you do expect and want something familiar and here we certainly have characters and elements which we have seen before : Truelove and Baxter, Dallas being scared of Trina, Eve being attacked physically, Roarke getting an opportunity to defend Eve, some good insult exchanges with Summerset, Roarke taking time to dress Eve appropriately whilst she throws scorn on fashion choices, Peabody and McNab, rich and spoiled people, and setting up the murderer using Dallas as bait. There is nothing wrong with any of this but there was nothing different and I had the feeling that the author had a checklist of things that she needed to get into the novel and that she was going to add nothing else.
The plot is centred around accountants, and I confess that I had a bit of trouble telling all the various suspects apart. Eve works out who the villain is about halfway through the story but she does so on receipt of information from Roarke so there is not really the opportunity for the reader to do the same. There are a couple of set piece action sections which are exciting and some good banter between the characters but there was no real tension to the story or any feeling of jeopardy for the main characters. There was also one disquieting moment where Eve ponders that the bad guy will disguise himself as a security guard and that to do so he may kill someone to take their place, this doesn't seem to worry her at all and the police make no effort to find out who might be targeted and protect them. We are also told, in passing, that someone has hacked into the police computers but that is never taken further and nor is the opportunity which Eve gives an ordinary police officer to participate in the investigation.
I found this book disappointing because it appeared to be written to formula, it had nothing new to offer the regular reader of these books and there was no real tension. I really wonder how long JD Robb can continue with this series unless she injects something very new and exciting into the established mix.
on 5 April 2013
If you want a review of the book itself - skip this one. It's more a review of some of the reviews ... though I just loved that the coat finally got a try-out ... and the baby catching incident!
Having read some of the latest reviews of this book, I felt I had to put in my twopenneth! I've been hooked on JD Robb since picking up a copy of Naked in Death in 1995 - when it first came out (and when the name Nora Roberts only appeared under the copyright). And then battling to get hold of the next book from the US in the days before widespread internet availability, and before they were published in the UK. I've also just finished a complete re-read of all 36 novels, the short stories, and the half-book in chronological order. While the latest wouldn't be up there with my favourites, I can say that the series goes through cycles (they can't all be 'wowsers') - and just when you wonder if another jawdropper is ever going to arrive, one appears - often followed by a second, and very occasionally a third. It's only 3 books since Treachery and New York to Dallas - both of which (particularly the former) were superb. To those reviewers suggesting it's time to end and go out on a high - go back and read them all! When read in sequence the slightly more mundane ones actually gain new momentum, and read much better.
And for those who think the family links are pretty much done and dusted - what about grandparents?? Aunts and uncles? Evil twin?
And finally - although Eve and Roarke really aren't ready for a child yet (it's not that long since they were both nearly freaking out over Bella Eve) - I think the possibility has great potential, and if you read through them, you can see things progressing towards this. Possibly. Perhaps.
Absolutly no way these books should end yet.
on 6 May 2013
How Ms Roberts manages to split her incredible imagination to weave so many different strands into her various genres is amazing, from romantic novels, supernatural or suspense to her "In Death" series a futuristic police procedural she holds my attention from the start to finish. I love all her genres but as with many of her other series I have followed the story of Eve Dallas and her husband billionaire Roarke from the beginning; for me, her novels are unmissable, they draw me along at a tremendous pace and I can't wait to the get to the final chapter, which is totally ridiculous because I am on pins until the next In Death is available in September. I just love her characters, Eve, Roarke, Peabody and McNab, Mavis and Leonardo and Trina who Eve would rather go 10 rounds with the latest villain to avoid her ministrations. There are so many characters and they are verbally o well drawn that I feel I know each and every one of them personally and care about them. If you haven't read J D Robb you will miss a treat. I hope I have done her justice, it is hardly surprising she has so many awards and fans world-wide.
I didn't buy this book, as the hardback price was too high, and because recently, the series has gone from being a Kindle Keeper of a tale, to a 'hmmm...that sounds familiar' type of tale.
There's no point in summarising the tale, as the storyline itself isn't a problem, and yes, it was an interesting read to see Eve make the connection to the killer via Roarke's research. However, the tale did feel a bit tired, which I have been noticing over the last 2/3 releases. I mean, this one has barely come out and the Sep 2013 release is being advertised, and, the author seems to have gone back to her habit of putting out an Eve Dallas novella, normally due out in an Oct antho (which she skipped last year), as Mirror Mirror is already available for pre-order and is coming out in Sep 2013 too. Money-grabbing seems to come to mind, a la Kenyon/Feehan, which I didn't expect.
JD Robb remains an excellent author, but what makes the Eve Dallas tales great is her posse: Peabody, McNab, Feeney, Morris, Charles and Louise, Mavis, Leonardo and Bella, Summerset, Nadine, Baxter, Trueheart, and to a lesser degree for me, Mira and Trina. Most of these characters got a small amount of page-time in this tale, but what was totally missing is the very personal interactions with them that used to be present in the series, and which kind of stopped with the tale in which Louise and Charles married; I forget the title. Yes, we see the characters, but the banter isn't there any more. We don't seem to see their personal lives any more, which made the tale feel cold and clinical. On top, it seemed to be a bit of a repetition - Eve doesn't want to go to the premiere of the film based on her Icove case, but she will. She does not want to dress up, but Leonardo's designed a dress (poss unseen) that she will wear and that she knows will suit her. Roarke helps her dress, coordinates her outfit for that and for an important meeting, as she has no fashion sense or interest, not even when representing her department. Eve is scared of letting Trina loose on her, but still goes with it. Eve takes a couple of knocks (sorry, I can't recall if she goaded the attacker or not, though the latter seems to have become part of her MO). Eve doesn't 'do' kids, but gets to save one and to have to hold it til its parents arrive. Eve and Peabody play 'bad cop, good cop'...it goes on. And, in this, it almost seemed as if Eve and Roarke had hardly any time together, and I have to say that their love scenes are nowhere near as hot as before - maybe they're settled and comfortable with each other, no longer newlyweds...all seemed a little bit stale.
I won't be buying any more In Death books, due to their price and for the above reasons, but I will still read the series - the tales are an Autobuy by my local library. However, 'going out on a high' comes to mind, as I wonder where this series remains to go. The tales work to a formula, and Eve performs to the same; it's all getting a bit tired and predictable. The author mentioned once, in response to a Q&A, that Eve cannot have a baby yet, as due to the way she works, this would mean the end of the series. Perhaps, with respect, the time for that is now. I mean, they've been married for 2/3/4 years, and neither has any immediate family, so having a family of their own might complete their healing...or will it be an ultimatum that Roarke gives Eve, before they have a major row, which she broods over whilst working a case, ending up having a !eureka moment, and deciding that she's mature enough and grown-up enough to realise that Roarke has never asked anything of her, and perhaps her gift back to him, would be to have their baby?
I will be sorry to see the series end, but I'd prefer it to go out on a high, unlike Buffy TVS, which peaked, then continued for a further two years, hemorrhaging fans and ending with a total anti-climax. Please, JD Robb, don't do that to a great series.
on 16 April 2013
At first glance the dead woman appears to be the victim of a mugging gone wrong. With her bag and coat gone it seems that somebody tried to rob her, only for things to get out of hand. A closer look though reveals that things are probably not that simple. If robbery had been the motive, would the thief not also have taken her expensive boots for example?
It doesn't take Eve Dallas much more than one look to conclude that whatever the motive for this murder, it wasn't theft. The victim was an accountant and it isn't long before Eve finds herself up to her neck in the world of finance and audits. This is a world she knows very little about but being married to Roarke, possibly the most successful businessman in the world, does have its advantages. With a host of suspects, more murders and an attack on herself and Peabody to content with, Eve has a complicated investigation on her hands. And when it seems that the murderer is developing an appetite for killing, the investigation becomes more urgent as well. Still, dealing with high finance, arrogant businessmen and crazy killers doesn't face Eve nearly as much as the prospect of the upcoming premiere and all the preparations that event is going to require, does.
With this being the 36th book in this series, and me having read all and reviewed most of them, I'm running out of original things to say. It must be clear to anybody who has been following my reading that I love these books. I love them because of the mysteries, the setting - New York in the near future - the humour and the original and fascinating characters. In fact, it is the opportunity to spend more time with Eve, Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Summerset and all the other regulars that has me eagerly awaiting every subsequent book in this series. I enjoy the interactions between these characters; Eve's snarkiness, her ongoing verbal battle of wills with Summerset, her almost reluctant loyalty to her friends and, most of all, her relationship with Roarke. I'm getting a kick out of watching her develop and coming out of her self-imposed shell a little bit more with every subsequent book. And I adore the way in which she will muddle up expressions and have a good explanation as to why hers is as good as the original:
"Though modesty will prevent me from playing my own fiddle...
Tooting your own horn.
What's the difference? They both make noise."
As she does in most, if not all, of her books J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) paints a crystal clear picture with her words. She introduces you to characters who come alive on the page to such an extent that you can see and hear them. Her dialogue sparkles and sounds natural. If nothing else, this author is a master storyteller, a wordsmith of the highest order. And I, like millions of other women, will always be grateful that she keeps on bringing us her wonderful stories.