Festive in Death is the 39th book in J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Thirty-nine books! Seriously? Yes. Thirty-nine. Not many authors could keep my interest in the same group of characters over the years, but Nora Roberts (writing as J. D. Robb) has again written a book I will be recommending to friends. In a futuristic New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is the top murder cop in the city. She is revered by her aide, Delia Peabody, adored by her husband, Rourke, and shares a mutual disdain with Rourke’s Major-domo, Summerset. Eve is not afraid to take on the worst of New York’s bad guys. The only one to ever strike fear into Eve’s heart is her hairdresser, Trina.
What do you do when your friend is dumped by a two-faced jerk? You organize a little pay back! But when a tipsy Trina and her buddy arrive at the ex’s place with mischief on their minds, they find someone else had the same idea, with a lot more than itching powder as a weapon. At 2:00 am, Eve receives a call from her hair-care nemesis and drags herself from a warm bed and warmer body to investigate.
This was a fine mystery: plenty of suspects, several red-herrings and a satisfying slapping on of cuffs at the end. Fans of the series will enjoy Eve’s personal growth along with the holiday theme. This year Eve does her own Christmas shopping with minimal complaining and even, shockingly, helps Summerset decorate the house. Eve has always been comfortable as a cop. She and Peabody have developed a good rhythm, and it shows as they investigate, interview and track a killer. This book highlights Eve’s growing confidence in the rolls of friend and wife to the most powerful man on the planet. All the old friends are here but don’t take over the story. Even Eve’s dream sequence (a staple of the In Death series) isn’t angst-ridden and depressing. As she tells Rourke, “I’m all right. My hands are clean.”
Rourke’s ability to aide in what should be an official police investigation is, as always, a stretch of credibility, but it has also become a staple of the series. Some procedural points ring true. Eve explains to Trina that the itching powder could be considered assault, cutting up socks destruction of property and her other ideas, while inventive paybacks, would not have been worth the legal fees. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest installment.