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Saturday, September 02, 2006

****½ Witness in Death by J. D. Robb. Futuristic romantic suspense. Re-read.

Like the previous book in the series, Witness in Death is a departure from the norm. It's as though Nora wrote the extremely intense Conspiracy in Death and then needed to give herself or her readers a break by doing the literary equivalent of a sitcom's musical episode, first with the over-the-top James-Bond-ishness of Loyalty, and now with an homage to Agatha Christie in Witness. It's not subtle--the murder takes place onstage during a production of Witness for the Prosecution. It's also not the first book Nora's written with a Christie-ish flavor.

Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke are in the audience on opening night when, during the climactic scene, the character of Leonard Vole is killed... as is the actor playing him. A real knife had been substituted for the harmless prop knife.

What follows is a nicely intricate, convoluted tale, with the actors playing roles within roles. The solution is elegant, and makes perfect sense, and is done just the way Hercule Poirot would have done it. The emotions and motivations of all the players are clear and understandable.

In addition, there are the developments in the ongoing series story. We see Peabody and McNab respectively baffled and frustrated by their feelings for each other, and Trueheart getting his break. And then there's one of my absolute favorite Eve/Roarke scenes: when Eve tries to put together a romantic dinner for the two of them. It's a favorite because I can relate to it so well.


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