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Saturday, July 08, 2006

****½ Holiday in Death by J. D. Robb. Futuristic romantic suspense.

What is this? The 6th excellent book I've read in a row? The streak doesn't end here, either. I swear, I need to find some mediocre books soon, before my head explodes.

At least this isn't another 5-star book. The serial killer plot is what kept it from being a 5-star read for me.

I assume by this point, everyone pretty well knows what J. D. Robb's In Death series is about: mid-21st century, homicide cop married to billionaire with a shady past. Each book has a mystery/police procedural story as well as advances in the characters' personal lives.

Holiday in Death, unsurprisingly, takes place around Christmastime 2058. A serial killer who dresses as Santa is targeting the clients of a dating service: raping and murdering them, then decorating their bodies with a "Twelve Days of Christmas" theme. The hunt for the killer is well done, and Eve makes a wrong turn that's emotionally affecting, and well as showing that she's human. It's just that serial killer stories get to be pretty much same-old, same-old after a while. It's always a guy killing his mother over and over again. Ho-hum. But that's a matter of taste, or at least a matter of how many romantic suspense and mystery books I've read with serial killers in them.

What was great about this story is how Eve deals with the holiday, her first since meeting and marrying Roarke. She's got her usual disgruntled attitude toward her fellow humans, and, as usual, hates shopping. On the other hand, her life is now becoming full of people who matter to her, and the process of coming up with gifts for them shows how much her life has changed.

Holiday in Death also begins the McNab/Peabody/Charles Monroe triangle, and the real start of the McNab/Peabody relationship. We'd met McNab in the previous book, Vengeance in Death, but that one only showed the beginnings of sparks between the two.

One of the lovely things about this series is the leisurely way in which the secondary relationships develop. Eve and Roarke did take 3 books from first meet to wedding, but it was still a pretty romance-novel-ish pace. McNab and Peabody, and other relationships in the series, proceed at a more true-to-life rate, and because the main characters are happily committed, we readers can enjoy the small developments without too much impatience.


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