Dark in Death: J.D. Robb
Within the mind of an author there are characters, plotlines, settings and twists that hopefully will engage readers. What happens when someone creates a storyline that is based on the words of another person hoping to become not only a famous author but also one in the same with the villains in the novels? Movies provide a chance to escape the real world and enter that of fictional characters that appear on the wide screen for viewers. But, what happens when a viewer decides to take the murder scene and create his/her own and take out an innocent victim just as the same murder scene is being enacted on the movie screen? Author J.D. Robb introduces us to Chanel Rylan and innocent viewer of the movie classic by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho. The famous shower scene where Anthony Perkins stabs the victim in the shower becomes the major plotline for Chanel’s murder. Theater of Blood is the horror movie that the author creates and the novel in this case was a mystery by Blaine DeLano written in 2061. As the scene is about to unfold Chanel is now in place in her seat eating some salted popcorn and a drink while her friend who’s a vet, is texted and told there is an emergency at work which turns out to be just a ruse to get her out of the way for the killer to commit the murder. Lola Kawasaki is her friend and company for the movie and she, as others we will learn state that Chanel did not have any enemy nor did anyone dislike her. Someone made sure that Lola would be sent on a fake mission and the emergency, false, allowed the killer to take an ice pick and stab Chanel in the neck. This was methodically planned and orchestrated.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her partner, Detective Delia Peabody get the case and begin by closing off the theater, calling in the sweepers, tagging Delia’s husband, McNab to handle the cameras and other technology and of course the hot and gorgeous Roake to assist with digging deep where she cannot. Witnesses are questioned and various descriptions of someone comes to light and when viewing the vids and the discs from the theater and surrounding areas, Dallas sees something that starts her off on a quest to find someone that is more like a chameleon and is hiding in plain sight but where? Ten theaters, two floors, two mega screens and now they need uniforms to cover over 100 people holding them in the theater next door. Peabody called the dead wagon and they wanted to get the body bagged and tagged and sent to the morgue.
Lola plays a minor role in this novel and as she talked about her job, telling how they talked about the first time each one saw this movie and how it affected her when taking a shower, watching it over and over again would freak her out but Janet Leigh’s performance was outstanding Bates cleans up the bathroom and the shower scene ends and he is going to wrap the body in the shower curtain and put her and her luggage and the money she stole wrapped in newspaper in her car and sink it in the swamp. Perkins is believable, as this killer wants the reader to believe that he/she is believable too.
This is murder number two as they learn about another murder of Rosie Kent who was strangled with a white scarf several times. When Blaine Delano a famous author comes to the police station and explains that she realizes that the killer is using her novels to reenact murders, things take on a more vital tone and Dallas and Peabody realize that the next or third novel dealing with someone going to a club, taking a drink and poisoned would be next but who would be the victim? Killing Rosie Kent, a month before this murder and strangling her from one of Blaine’s books, they realize that they will have to read and reread the first two novels and then the third to get a handle on the killer’s motives and moves. Blaine lives with her mother and two daughters and her ex-husband was abusive and controlling as we learn more about him when he’s interviewed. His new wife seems afraid and distant and you can tell from the brief interview that he might take it out on her when they leave. His son, and his pride and joy reminds readers of a spoiled child that is following in his father’s image and footsteps. As Eve and Roarke settle in to read the novels using their ipads and calling it up with their huge technological advances they begin to see a pattern and then realize that this killer is a woman once, then a man and then a change artist whose appearance varies with every murder. The victims might be based on the novel’s main characters but how are they going to find out who matches the profile for the next murder as they interview and speak to Loxie Flash. The first murder is of a girl that was a licensed companion and Loxie is someone who frequents the bars, gets high and drunk and fits the profile of the next victim in the third book.
Witnesses interviewed in each crime and one ex-boyfriend named Glaze at the heart of the third murder as the camera feeds are watched and a sketch is made of the killer each one different yet in some respects the same. The key to who this was becomes evident from the clothes worn by the killer that were expertly made.
When the killer creates a novel and sends it to Blaine it is returned by her mother and the person is told that her lawyers forbid her from reading and reviewing the works of other authors. This greatly incensed the killer and more threats were made and emails with threats followed as Dallas and Peabody along with Roarke plowed through the author’s emails and hoped to come up with someone that was email stalking her.
Telling various people that their profiles matched that of the character in the next book or one after they were cautioned to be more vigilant and heed the warnings of both Dallas and Peabody but most did not.
Eve carries an edge to her manner and voice and is often off putting with many who meet her as she is relentless when trying to take down a killer and shows little or no mercy when finding the person and at times reflects the same harsh demeanor with suspects guilty or not. Dealing with Mira she respects her analysis of the criminal and then bringing in Leonardo about the clothes along with his child, Bella and his wife allows readers to see a glimmer of another side of Eve but just for a short moment.
The killer and the Blaine are at opposite ends of the spectrum as one wants the good to win where the other the evil. In the killer’s own mind the villain is the main attraction and when Blaine allows Dark to win she is angered even more. Stating she is a fraud and took her voice and her words she is delusional to say the least.
Writing samples of much different handwriting, emails, threats and then what does it have to do with fabrics, knitting and sewing? A person given a business using it as a ruse or stepping-stone to get what that person wants yet hating everything and anyone in her way. The speech and the way Dallas converses seems right out of a CSI or criminal minds episode but her hardnosed attitude comes through and you wonder how she finds time for her soft side with Roarke. The killer feels that he/she is superior to DeLano and she hopes to make her the final kill. But, Dallas has a feeling that the sketch for the next hit needs to be adjusted and when it is sent out she might find this killer. Meet a holder woman who will make you stand up and cheer as we learn more about the killer and the killer’s talent working for the rich and wealthy. Natalia Duban Berkle falls over Roarke when he enters her home and of course anything they want to know she will be more than willing to answer. But, when talking with her they learn more about the killer and someone that worked for her and why her staff and Mrs. Berkle need to find a safer place. Then the light bulb shines on someone close to Berkle named Felicia Lomare but will Dallas and her team after knocking on the wrong doors before get there in time.
An ending and a takedown you just won’t believe and an older woman not to be trifled with. The killer’s lair features photos that will send this person away forever to prison off planet and hopefully with no chance of parole or ever being released. On page 355 learn more about what this person decorated her walls with and when you hear the killer speak the story told will make you cringe. Will the killer confess to killing Rosie Kent, Chanel Rylan and Loxie Flash? Why does this person hate DeLano and why is it that the killer things DeLano is a fraud. An interrogation that is typical Dallas and an ending letting you wonder what is next. Without her nemesis she has no one to insult except anyone else that gets in her way.
Will the killer realize that it’s too late and confess? Will Eve ever get promoted to Captain and take on more responsibilities and will Peabody finally make Lieutenant as she is truly the backbone of the investigation and needs more credit?
Once again J.D. Robb presents a mystery/murder thriller that lets readers know that the darkness rules in this novel not the light and that DeLano created Dark who is part of her and she represents her and she you. The wants to rewrite the series from another vantage point as we realize that the title has two or more multiple meanings: The character of Dark creates and deals with Death or Dark the character in Death and the first scene where murder occurs in the Dark and finally the dark side of life.
Characters ripped right out of the headlines and technology that far surpasses what we have now. Can’t wait for the next one!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
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