Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recent Read

Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

Why this one: It's an In Death book

Steam Level: so so

Blurb: Lt. Eve Dallas, a top homicide cop for the New York Police and Security Department (the law enforcement agency for a mid 21st-century New York City), faces one of the more challenging cases of her career in bestseller Robb's exciting 31st in death novel (after Kindred in Death). When someone cuts off the head of Bart Minnock, the genius founder of the computer gaming company U-Play, apparently while he was role-playing against an imaginary opponent in a prototype of a fantasy adventure that could rock the industry, Eve investigates. Security logs show no one entered Minnock's building around the time of his murder, presenting a futuristic variation on the classic locked-room mystery. Aided by her husband, Roarke, who was a potential business rival of the victim, Dallas focuses on who would benefit from Minnock's death.

My Thoughts: *wringing hands in despair*
Oh dear, I didn't think I'd ever think this, but I didn't really care for this entry into the series and I found it disappointing. It wasn't badly done, but there was nothing new or fresh in Fantasy. It was almost like Ms. Robb had a check list and one by one checked off each item

  • Eve catches a case - check
  • Roarke has some kind of involvement (he knew the victim and tried to recruit him for Roarke Enterprises but when Bart turned him down, Roarke became a bit of a mentor) - check
  • Eve and Roarke have a small difference of opinion - Roarke frowns at her but it is resolved within a page) - check
  • Eve insults Sommerset - check
  • Peabody and McNabb have a few scenes together - check
  • Eve and Roarke have some love scenes (rather bland in compared to earlier books. I know this because I've reread quite a few of her earlier books lately and Fantasy is definitely lacking in the steam level) - check
  • Nadine brings baked goods into the department - check
  • Eve puzzles over case - check
  • Eve solves case - check
  • And so on and so on
The End

What is missing I felt, in this book, is heart. I don't really know how to explain it, but for the first time there seemed to be no real connection between the reader (me) and the characters. And there was no real connection between the characters. Some, such as Dr. Mira and Baxter and Trueheart only seemed to make token appearance because it was expected that they would be in the book. There was no real connection between any of the characters and the murder victim except for the one between Roarke and Bart and his partners.

This book focused on the mystery at the expense of character development I thought. There was no character development, no growth, nothing new. There was one scene that was so out of character on Roarke's part that it was jarring.

Usually when it comes to the next installment of this series I read the book in two days tops, but this one took five days and I read another one in between. But I just didn't feel this one, it didn't resonate with me the way all the previous books did.

My advice - unless you are anal about collecting the series (like I am), don't be spending the big bucks for this one. I think you might be as disappointed as I was. In the meantime I hope the author gets back what makes this series so special for the next one.

Grade: 3 out of 5


Lea said...

Oh Dear;

Sorry this one was a so so read Kristie! However I guess even an author like JD Robb is allowed an off day..

I hope the next one is more to your liking.


farmwifetwo said...

THEY AREN'T ROMANCES.... I keep eye-rolling the "romance" fans opinions of her books. They are shelved on the mystery shelves for a reason... they aren't romances, nor romantic suspenses. They are mysteries.

That was probably the very reason she didn't admit she wrote them until Betrayal. To deal with these very same complaints. The early books are not full of Morris, Baxter, Trueheart etc... As the stories have evolved she's added more characters but they are not the story. Eve Dallas is the story. She and her ability to solve a case.

And.. she does what she does well... solves the case.

Kristie (J) said...

Farmwifetwo: Sorry - but I have to disagree with you on this one. After reading your comment, I double checked and they are all labeled Romantic Suspense on the spine. I know in Chapters they are shelved in the Mystery section, but from the first book on, they have all had romance in them. And I read them for both the romance and the suspense.
I've never complained about a single In Death book before and this is the lowest grade I've given one. The romance angle was just one of the things I felt this book was missing and that in itself wouldn't have garnered a low grade. I would have been kind of disappointed it wasn't there, but there have been others that I've read where the romance has taken a back seat and I still really enjoyed them. But it's this book as a whole that I felt was lacking. There was no sign of growth that has been evident as this series has moved along. I didn't feel a sense of connection that I've felt in every other book - romance or no. There wasn't the connection between characters that I've felt in other books. Not between Eve and the victim or Eve - she always 'stands for the dead' and I just didn't see it nearly as much in this one. And there didn't seem to be that much connection either, between her and all the other players - whether it be Roarke, Peabody, Feeney or even Sommerset. It just seemed almost 'automatic' to me in this book.

Lea: Well, considering that of all the books in this series that I've read and loved, one I found only so so is pretty darn good.

Leslie said...

You're right Kristie - one out many is still a great series! This is the only one I haven't read yet, waiting for the library to get it.

I too consider them romantic suspense. With some heavier on the mystery but still have romance. Think of all the couples in the series - Eve & Roarke, Peabody & McNab, Mavis & Leonardo, Charles & Louise, Morris & Ammy... I might be missing a few but that's a lot of couples IMO.

farmwifetwo said...

I have the original H/C and pb of Naked in Death. The publisher is Berkley's RS line... But to be a RS there needs to be a HEA... Where is it??? Inside the cover all it says is "Berkley PB", and the h/c by GP Putnam's and Son.

The HEA occured in book 3. It is a mystery series. I find it ironic that people like all the books up to Remember When but when she doesn't flip over to giving all the other characters a HEA they trash them.

They are mysteries... if they were a RS series every single book would end with a different characters HEA or the same characters would still be working on their romance.... Every other series does. So why are the first 20 books "ok" and the later one's "bad" b/c she won't write what the fans want???

Why is it a RS????? Or is that to entice her romance fans to read it.

Why is it ok that we don't have Morris, Trueheart etc for the first 20 books and now if they aren't main characters the book doesn't work for you and others.... It's been the same bash for about the last 3 or 4 books and it's getting old.

I find it ironic that for any other mystery author at this point, romance or not, it's considered a mystery and "ok" but when Nora does it... it's not good enough.

Why the difference???? I have yet to get an answer. But then again, there's many topics I've asked that very question (autism land) and haven't gotten an answer so I can't claim to expect one.

azteclady said...

Disagreeing with farmwifetwo: from where I sit, these novels are not mysteries but rather police procedurals set in the future--the emphasis is not in the mystery but on the investigation.

Oh, and in most of the bookstores where I've seen them, they ARE shelved in the romance section. Notice that I live in the FL and it would seem shelving practices are different where you live.

Further, there was a happy ending in the first book--not a wedding, but a happy ending: Roarke and Eve have found each other and are in a developing, committed relationship with each other. Not marriage, but then, not all romances genre novels end in marriage. In some cases *gasp* the marriage takes place early in the novel, and in others it is left entirely out of the story. Either way, you can have a romance genre story.

I have yet to read Fantasy in Death, but I can say that personally, I didn't care for the fourth book at all(Rapture in Death), and yet I've liked all the other books to one degree or another. Admitting that some of the entries are stronger in plotting, or in character development, or what not, doesn't make me shrill or misguided, does it? It simply means that I know what I like and what I don't like.

Plus, just because it's written by X or Y author doesn't mean it's all the same quality--nor that all the themes that an author writes about touch a reader in the same way.

nath said...

Well I agree with you, Kristie... this was not a great installment. For me, the problem was the case. I didn't really find it interesting... it was really hard to get into, especially how the victim was murder... I know this is futuristic, but yeah, when you can't really comprehend it, it makes it hard to enjoy it.

As for the characters, seriously, I don't mind that there is no growth. Did you notice how close the timeline has been for Promise, Kindred and Fantasy? They've been really close to each other... and with nothing personal happening, when or where are the characters are supposed to grow?

The thing is, Ms Robb didn't plan it good when it comes to characters growth. What's the timeline of this series... 3 years from book 1 to Fantasy in Death? She had Eve and Roarke mature, grow and adjust too quickly. I'm not saying that they're done growing, but at least, they've reached the point where they are well with each other, there are less problems and possibilities for problems. The author already added a bunch of things for them to grow (Roarke finding the truth about his mother, Eve meeting her foster family, Marvis having a baby)... So yeah, I just think it's not realistic to expect characters growth in every book.

Also, i agree about there was a moment very out of character for Roarke.

orannia said...

I will confess to skimming your review as I will be reading this at some point (and I don't like being spoiled when it comes to suspense :) Saying that...oh dear :( The heart makes these books for me...