Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb

Calculated in DeathNarrated by Susan Ericksen

I’m a huge fan of the In Death series, but I can’t say this was one of my favorites. The pattern of the series (loosely) seems to feature a book, which focuses more on the emotional/relational, and then one or two which focus more on the procedural. New York to Dallas was definitely in the former category and Delusion in Death (which I read in print recently) was in the latter as was Celebrity in Death.  So, with Calculated in Death, I was hoping for an entry that focused more on the relationship but unfortunately, I discovered another procedurally focused book. And worse, it was about maths (horror!).  Well, not really maths, but finances. I found the story a bit dry actually. While I was sympathetic to the first victim, events after then made it difficult for me to care as much as I normally would.

On the personal side, Eve has basically come to grips with her mother issues and things between Eve and Roarke are good, as is the case with her other friends and colleagues. The big personal event of the book is the opening of the movie regarding the Icove case (which was being filmed in Celebrity in Death).

One oddity I noticed was a big song and dance in an earlier book about Roarke having access to the financial information of other companies. He had to sign a release and the situation was tense. Roarke helps Eve out in the same way in this book but there was no discussion about potential conflicts of interest at all.

For the most part, Roarke was less present in this story. He had work of his own and didn’t seem to be quite as involved in the investigation as he has been in other books. Perhaps it is merely my perception. Also, this might be a good thing – a common complaint I see about the In Death series is that Roarke is too involved in the police work.

I am getting a little tired of the running gags about Eve’s mis-spoken clichés. There were at least four or five in this book. One is enough. It felt like overkill this time.

In terms of the narration, well, Susan Ericksen just nails this series. The main and secondary characters are all so well established now and they each have distinct voices I can easily recognize without dialogue tags. The new characters who were present for this story only, were similarly well rendered. Ericksen is easy to listen to and is able to deliver both the humor and the tension of the story. The passages with Eve and Peabody are always fun, especially when Peabody mentions sex with McNab (which usually makes Eve’s eyes bleed). Roarke’s sexy Irish accent is smooth and gorgeous as usual and always a pleasure to hear.

I have been listening to Susan Ericksen narrate this series for so long now, it is difficult to come up with anything new to say about it. Her narration is always very good and elevates dry material. When combined with an excellent story in this series, it is hard to beat for sheer enjoyment. When the story is not quite as strong (as was the case for me here) her narration was still wonderful and added to my overall enjoyment. The production quality of the In Death audiobooks is also reliably good – very few mistakes or glitches, which is always a plus.

There have been other books in the series I have not enjoyed quite as much as Calculated in Death so it’s not a unicorn in that regard. Even an “average” book in this series, is a B- for me. Still, I hope to get a story next time, which is more about one of the main/secondary characters so that I can get my emotional/relational fix.


Narration:  B+

Book Content:  B-

Steam Factor:  Glad I had my earbuds in

Violence:  Escalated fighting

Genre:  Futuristic Romantic Suspense

Publisher:  Brilliance Audio