It’s the summer of 2060 and Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security homicide department (it’s the future, so things are different in both cool and superfluous ways. When did they add the extra security?) is drawn back into the case that launched her career. Killer pedophile Isaac McQueen escapes from prison intent on getting revenge on the woman who took him down. Eve follows McQueen from New York to Dallas (see what I did there? Oh, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2011), the city that gave Eve her name. See she was found beaten and raped in a Dallas alleyway at the age of eight with no memory and a broken arm. Understandably, she is not terribly fond of the city of Dallas. But since she’s a supercop, Eve rushes down to Texas to recapture a monster, bringing along Roarke, her ex-criminal/current gazillionaire husband, for technical and moral support. Along the way, she confronts secrets from her own past that threaten her and her marriage.
If the In Death series was a TV crime procedural (and let’s face it, it totally is. I mean there’s a regular cast of starring and recurring characters that have ongoing personal storylines, but mainly are there to solve the case of the week/book), then New York to Dallas would be a sweeps episode, possibly a season finale. There’s a villain who is cunning enough to be a real challenge to our heroine, but heinous enough so that it’s extra satisfying when he’s finally brought to justice. And holy mother of … whatever, is Issac heinous. Warning: I had to skim some of his scenes because they were that disturbing to read about. There’s also that surprising connection to Eve’s past. This being the 33rd (!) book in the series, I thought most of the horrors of Eve’s childhood had been revealed. But no, there’s more awfulness to be discovered. This leads to conflict with Roarke, since he’s used to fixing everything but doesn’t know how to fix Eve’s pain, and Eve’s not great at letting him try. J.D. Robb (aka Romance Queen Nora Roberts) has done such a good job setting up Eve and Roarke and their romance, that even though I knew that they would be fine, the stress in their relationship felt genuine to the characters and not something there to manufacture drama. Their romance can get a bit cheesy at times (I have a low cheese tolerance though), but also feels true to these two damaged, stubborn people.
If I have one complaint about New York to Dallas, since a majority of the actions takes place out of state, we don’t get nearly enough of the rest of characters. Sure, we get to meet some interesting new characters, like one of McQueen’s former victims who became a cop, but it’s not the same. Dr. Mira, Peabody, and Whitney pop up here and there, but there’s only a minimal amount of McNab, Baxter, Summerset, and Feeney. And there’s almost no Mavis, Louise, Charles, or Nadine. That’s just not cool.
Someone from her publisher told me that an editor once told Nora Roberts to get a hobby and slow down writing novels since her prolificness was flooding the romance market. Instead, Nora decided to write a futuristic thriller series (with romantic elements, obviously) under a pseudonym. Now she produces 4-6 books a year (all without employing her own writer sweatshop, James Patterson) and they’re all well written, with strong characters and tight plots. I’m never hugely surprised by a Roberts/Robb novel, but I’m always entertained. And from every interview of hers I’ve ever read, Roberts is content and has a good sense of humor about her place in the literary landscape. Probably because it’s earned her millions of dollars. My favorites in the series tend to be the books where the whole team has to come together because of a threat to one of their own, so I wouldn’t say New York to Dallas is the best one yet, but In Death fans will find it a worthy edition to the series. And if you haven’t read the series yet, you should start with the first book, Naked In Death. Now doesn’t that sound intriguing?