Written by guest reviewer Kaetrin
Narrated by Susan Ericksen
Innocent in Death is the 24th installment of the In Death series (not including the various novellas available) by Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb. The books feature Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police & Security Department, Homicide Division. Commencing with the superb Naked In Death set in 2059, where Eve first meets gorgeous billionaire Roarke, the series charts the various cases Eve and her team solve, as well as the romantic relationship between the man with the poet’s face and sexy Irish lilt and and “his cop.”
Roarke has a somewhat shady past but he’s also a legitimate businessman, owning, as Eve puts it, half the known universe. If you haven’t read or listened to the series, Innocent in Death is not the book to start with. All of the In Death books are good – some better than others – some excellent. A number of the books seem to focus more on the police procedural side and others give us more of Eve and Roarke. As an unabashed fan of the series, I realize I’m biased (in fact I recently queried whether Eve and Roarke are archetypes) but the stories are just so good – and on audio, they’re something else again.
Susan Ericksen narrates the series. She actually started her narration at book 13, Seduction in Death, and later went back and recorded the series from the beginning. For those listening to the series in order, there is a noticeable difference in the characterizations Ericksen displays in her first attempts compared to the rest of the series (fans would like nothing better than for her to re-record those first narrated books – ie books 13 and 14 of the series – I think!), but for new players, Naked in Death has the same excellent narration as Innocent in Death.
Ericksen gives Roarke a wonderful Irish lilt which suits his sex-on-legs persona and she totally nails Eve’s no-nonsense, kickass style.
Innocent in Death tracks trouble in Eve and Roarke’s relationship, (when an old flame of Roarke’s comes calling to cause strife) and Eve’s murder investigation of schoolteacher Craig Foster. Eve is initially off her stride because Roarke has a blind spot when it comes to Magdalena Purcell. The leggy blonde bombshell is everything that Eve isn’t and her mad manipulation skills mean that there is soon trouble at Casa Roarke.
Innocent in Death is a fairly even balance between the police procedural and the relational and represents my favourite kind of In Death book. The murderer isn’t immediately obvious, but when it becomes clear, it is nothing less than chilling. There is something about both Eve and Roarke’s pasts that intersects with this case giving them both a new perspective.
In a scene early in Innocent in Death, a woman has been informed of her husband’s death and Ericksen uses the perfect wobble to convey the bereaved young lady’s distress. Those little touches make a gripping story even more compelling. I’ve always thought that Robb/Roberts has the ability to make a reader care about a character with only a few quick strokes of the pen. The way Ericksen narrates, the effect is even more enhanced.
Because the series is so long, the secondary characters have their own stories weaving their way through the narrative and fans enjoy catching up with Feeney, Peabody, McNab, Charles, Louise, Mavis, Leonardo, Trina, Nadine, Baxter, Trueheart, Morris and Dr. Mira. Each of these characters has a distinct voice, recognizable from everyone else and consistent (apart from those two first-narrated books) throughout the series. In Innocent in Death, the cast of characters escalates once again and Ms. Ericksen is called upon to provide voices for a number of children, victims, witnesses and other professionals. I was struck afresh during the listen at just how talented this lady is. There is little need for dialogue tags when listening to an In Death book. Each character has his/her own distinct personality and one of the advantages of having Ericksen narrate the whole series is that she knows and understands the backstory of all the regular characters and brings that with her to every performance.
If you’ve read the In Death series and would like to dive in for a great listen, why not give this a go? If you haven’t tried the series and you like romantic suspense/police procedurals with a strong romantic element, you can have the joy of starting with Naked in Death, knowing there are plenty more where that came from. We are up to number 35 in the series at present.
All of the books are good. Some are excellent. This is one of them.
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my ear buds in
Violence: Domestic Violence, Escalated Fighting
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Brilliance Audio