J. D. Robb is one of the most well-known names in the mystery genre, and with good reason: under this and other pseudonyms, she has written over 200 novels, all of which are currently still in print. The tradeoff to this kind of incredible span is that while her mystery novels are quite readable, they’re also tailored to appeal to a mass audience and avoid taking the kind of chances that can turn a decent novel into a spectacular one. Her latest book, titled Devoted in Death, is almost unbelievably the 41st entry in the ‘In Death’ series, so whatever faults there are in it, it must be said that she has some incredible powers of captivation.
As with all the others, this novel follows her admittedly popular New York City detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas as she attempts to solve a uniquely violent and gruesome murder. The victim was found in the middle of downtown Manhattan, and hidden within the incredible damage visited upon the body, Eve’s own initials have been carved into the tissue of the heart muscle. Gruesome stuff indeed, that only gets even more hair raising when new couple arrives in town who also happen to be serial killers (reminiscent of Mickey and Mallory Knox of Natural Born Killers).
It’s true that keeping a 41 novel series appealing the whole way through is quite a feat, but it also offers the temptation to rely on a bit of formulaic writing in order to keep things going. Fans of the series will find something to enjoy here, but otherwise critical reception hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive.
If you find yourself on a beach looking for something pulpy and light to read, this book would fill the bill, but don’t expect it to keep your mind occupied for more than a few minutes at a time.