Saturday, October 7, 2023

Books: "Payback In Death" By J.D. Robb

Payback in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel

By J.D. Robb

St. Martin's Press; hardcover, 368 pages $30.00; eBook, $14.99

J.D. Robb is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She has written over 240 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. Her most recent release, under Nora Roberts, was Identity, which we reviewed in June (click here). There are over 500 million copies of her books in print.

This is Volume 57 of the In Death series, which has been lauded by an array pf peers in the mystery and thriller world, including Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, Dennis Lehane, Linda Fairstein, and Andrew Gross. 

From the very first J.D. Robb book, Naked in Death, readers were drawn in by Lt. Eve Dallas, a tough cop with a dark past, and her  love interest, Roarke, who is full of mystery.

In the gripping new novel, Payback in Death, Eve has just returned home from a long overdue vacation to Greece and a visit to Roarke's Irish relatives, and she responds to a call of an unattended death.

The victim is one of Dallas' former colleagues, Martin Greenleaf, retired Internal Affairs Captain. At first glance, it appears to be a suicide, but as Even examines the body further, the more suspicious she becomes. There's an unlocked open window, a loving wife and family, a too-perfect suicide note, leading Eve's gut to tell her it's a homicide.

Greenleaf put many dirty cops away during his 47 years in Internal Affairs, so payback is a possibility, and Eve won't rest until the case is closed. 

In this excerpt, Dallas tries to savor the last bit of vacation before reality intrudes: "Arriving in New York equaled noise, heat drenched in humidity, snarling, bad-tempered traffic, and sidewalks flooded with people.

A perfect welcome home. Eve loved every grimy or shiny, every rude or welcoming, every high-class or low-class square inch of it.

'It was good,' she said. 'Everything was as good as it gets. So's this.' 

'Home's always best.'

Roarke drove through traffic, the stop and go of it, with the same ease he'd milked a damn cow. They'd sent their luggage ahead, so it was just the two of them for a little while longer.

'And home on a Sunday means neither of us have to get back at it until tomorrow. I vote for pizza, a whole lot of wine, then popcorn and a vid and a whole lot of sex.'

'Do you now?'

'Gotta stretch the vacaying to the last minute.'

'I couldn't agree more with any all of of that.'...

They unpacked, and by tacit agreement, both stayed out of their offices and had pizza on the patio as the sun set.

'Maybe we scratch the popcorn and vid.' She sat back, sipped a little more wine. 'It's barely nine, but it doesn't feel like it.'

'There's the earth on its axis moving around the sun again.'

'Yeah, you ought to find a way to fix that. We can skip straight to the sex.''

'How could I argue with that?'

'I figured that would get your vote.' She closed her eyes, lifted her face to the night. 'I'm going to have a shitload to catch up on tomorrow. You, too.'

'The price we pay.'

'Worth it. I did miss the cat, and New York pizza, but worth it. What time's your first meeting?'

He smiled at her. 'You'll still be sleeping.'

'Figured. Then let's go get this vacation capped off.'

They walked inside, then up to the bedroom, where the cat already stretched across the bed.

'Some things don't change,' she commented.

And as they turned to each other, the communicator on her dresser signaled.

'No, they bloody don't.'

'What the serious fuck? I'm not on the roll until oh-eight-hundred.'

She snatched it up. 'Dallas.'

Dispatch, Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. Official request for your assistance from Wesbter, Lieutenant Donald. Unattended death, 14 Leonard Street, apartment 321. Will you respond as primary?

'Crap. Affirmative. Responding now. Dallas out.'

She looked at Roarke. 'I don't know why, but he wouldn't ask if it wasn't important.'

'Understood. I'll drive - and don't wonder if I'm going with you because he once tried putting moves on you, and in our house. That's all done. We'll consider it our alternate way of capping off our vacation.'

'Fine.' She strapped on the weapon she'd put on the dresser for the morning. 'What the hell is IAB doing on an unattended death?'

'I suppose we'll find out.'

She grabbed her badge, her 'link, the rest of her pocket paraphernalia. 'I'm going to see who lives - and possibly died - there while you drive.'

They left the cat on the bed and went out to the car Roarke had remoted from the garage to the front of the house. She pulled out her PPC, started the search while he sped down the drive, through the gates.

'Shit. Shit. Martin and Elizabeth Greenleaf have that unit. Captain Martin Greenleaf, IAB - retired. I know - or maybe knew - him some. He's Webster's guru or mentor, father figure. I know they're tight. He was tight with Greenleaf and his wife.'

'He requested you because, as you said, it's important. I assume he didn't just tag you so as to keep it official?'

'Yeah, yeah. Still stretching it some. And he wouldn't have stretched it if it's, or looks like, natural causes, or an accident. Or maybe he would,' she considered. 'Because they were tight, and he just reacted.'

'You'll sort it out.'

'Yeah.' She looked at him again. 'Welcome the hell home.'

'Well then, it is our home and our life here, isn't it then? It's what we do, who we are. I wouldn't change it. Would you?'

'No.' That part came easy. 'But I didn't expect to dive right back into murder. And he wouldn't have asked for me, especially this way, if he didn't think murder. And I can't go into whatever this is influenced by what he thinks or feels.'

'He'd know that, wouldn't he?'

'He should. Crap, crap, Captain Greenleaf, or his wife. Or somebody else in their apartment. But odds of somebody else don't fly.'


'What I know of Greenleaf id by the book, and the book is sacred. No deviation. And I have to wipe that out, go in blank. That's how it has to be."

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