Innocent in Death
by J. D. Robb
Review by Paul Haggerty
Putnam Adult Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0399154019
Date: 20 February, 2007 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Innocent in Death is the 24th novel in the Eve Dallas mystery series. The In Death series takes place in 2050's (2060 in the case of this newest volume) New York City. Technology has changed a bit, but there's little that would be a terrible surprise. Human behavior, on the other hand, hasn't changed a bit. In a land of plenty, there are still the have a lots, and the have nothings. And while one might understand why the poor and destitute are forced to confront the ugly side of life, there's far less acceptability when the well to-do have a go. Especially when the victim, Craig Foster, is a well liked teacher at a private school for the wealthy and privileged. Newly married, clean as a whistle, and everybody's friend, Craig is the last person one would expect to find on the floor of his classroom, dead from an extremely bad case of poison.
Called in to investigate what everyone believes to be an unfortunate accident caused by some decidedly un-murder-like cause, Eve has reason to believe otherwise and quickly turns the school on its head. Complicating things are the mixed loyalties of all concerned. Parents may not like having teachers drop dead, but they dislike having their precious babies questioned by the police even more. And while the school administration wants whoever did this found and removed as soon as possible, they also want to keep it quiet so that parents won't panic and take their children (and their money) someplace else.
While everyone claims to have liked him and there doesn't seem to be any real motive for murder, the fact remains that someone deliberately, and with malice aforethought, put poison into his lunchtime drink. This is fairly clear evidence that a motive has to be lurking there somewhere. And just because it doesn't make sense to you, it doesn't mean that the killer didn't take the matter deadly seriously.
Also, as is usual in these books, Eve is distracted from her case by family matters. In this case, while dining with her husband, the googleplex-aire Roarke, they're approached by Magdalena Percell, one of Roarke's many old flames. And this one seems to be still packing some fire. Eve knows that Roarke loves her and would never do anything to hurt her, but she's lived a tough life and adult emotions don't listen to reason when the abused child in your heart is screaming. And Magdalena is so not helping keep things calm. One might suspect she actually wanted to cause a bit of marital discord. Well, actually everybody suspects it, except Roarke. And you can imagine how that makes Eve feel. Valentine's Day is fast approaching, her best friend's baby is still in the "come and visit and bring presents" stage, and Eve is going to be the guest star on the premiere of Nadine Furst's new TV show NOW. It's amazing that Eve can manage to detect her way to her own office with all the buzz in her brain.
And for those who have read the series so far, the chocolate thief is alive and well and still one step ahead of our plucky Lieutenant.