Promises in Death
by J.D. Robb
Review by Paul Haggerty
Putnam Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780399155482
Date: 24 February 2009 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Promises in Death is the 28th novel in the Eve Dallas mystery series. This time the murder lands a little too close to home for Detective Dallas. The victim is a cop, and not just any cop, but the girlfriend of Dallas' friend, Chief Medical Examiner, Li Morris. But to make matters worse, this wasn't a simple case of dying in the line of duty. The victim left her apartment of her own free will and apparently met someone she knew. Friend, snitch, fellow cop … whoever it was that murdered a young cop with her own weapon, this one is going to open a lot of old wounds.
Dallas had played it cool for years, not getting too close to anyone, not letting anyone near enough to hurt her. But that's all changed when she met and married Roarke. Now her life is jam packed with friends and family. And while that has had a lot of positive aspects that she'd never considered in her earlier times, now it has the one negative she always knew she would have to face. Notifying the family of victims is never a fun task, but Dallas has always treated it as just another part of the job. Keep it clean and keep it impersonal. But that's not possible now. It can't be impersonal when you have to tell your friend that the woman he loves has been gunned down and will never be coming home again.
Amaryllis Coltraine was, by all reports, was a hard working and honest cop. But she wasn't one to work anything really high profile, so there isn't much of a list of standard villains from her case files. In fact the suspect list is rather sparse no matter how you look at it. Then there are all her fellow cops from the precinct. In any group of people, there will be ones you like, and ones you don't like, friendships and rivalries. So they all need to be checked out, regardless of the ill will such an investigation always generates. Cops hate being investigated by fellow cops. Then there's Dallas' preferred suspect. It turns out that Coltraine use to date the son of one of Dallas' most dangerous enemies, one who's cooling his heels in a concrete cage in an off-planet prison. Surely the son would want some payback against the cops that put his dad in prison. Pity he has an air-tight alibi.
But as Dallas and her partner, Peabody, press deeper into the investigation, a wide variety of incompatible clues being to turn up, both clearing and implicating people in turns, as if somebody is pulling strings to see where Dallas will jump next. This might frustrate a lesser detective, but Dallas just gets irritated when people start thinking they're smarter than her. No matter what, she will dig her way through the misinformation until only the truth remains. Because if there's one thing Dallas will not tolerate, it's people thinking they can kill and get away with it, especially when they start striking at the people dear to her heart.
One of the most satisfying things about the Eve Dallas mysteries is that J.D. Robb always seems to have an endless supply of brand new characters ready to populate the pages of the books. Too many mysteries have the usual cast of characters, the killer, and one or two red herrings. In Promises in Death we have an entire squad room of fellow cops, several informants, and several old adversaries and related hangers-on. Any one of them, or some combination, could be the killer. Just as in a premiere novel where you're just getting to know the characters, here you'll have to really work if you want to figure out not only who-did-it, but why-did-it, because most people don't just kill without a good reason ... at least one that makes sense to them. And if they have a reason, they have a history. You'll just need to figure out how all the people relate and what one could have done, or not done, to another to bring about a cold blooded and calculated murder.