Lieutenant Eve Dallas delves into the world of virtual reality gaming to stop a sadistic killer in this In Death novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J. D. Robb.
They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common—and no obvious reasons for killing themselves. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas finds the deaths suspicious. And her instincts pay off when autopsies reveal small burns on the brains of the victims.
Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve’s investigation turns to the provocative world of virtual reality games—where the same techniques used to create joy and desire can also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction…
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape
I’m glad I decided to listen to these books. I have the first dozen or so on audio already, so it’s a nice way to pass the time. But this one had something missing that the others, so far, didn’t. It also had some nice changes. Which leaves me a little baffled on how to rate it.
I enjoyed seeing Eve settle into her relationship with Roarke. Not just accepting her feelings, but coming to depend on him, knowing that he’ll be there for her, and realizing that it’s not even necessarily a compromise when it’s with the person you love.
Roarke is still Roarke. That nearly perfect human being, utterly understanding, completely devoted. His backstory is given some more depth here, and you begin to see that he wasn’t always the wonderful person that he is now. Not simply criminal activity, which I think that people brush aside fairly easily with Roarke, but something darker and deeper. And here’s where my trigger warning is going to come in.
At one point in the book Roarke is manipulated by subliminal messages. They are quite advanced, and push him too far. He pulls Eve into a closet and, despite her protests, rapes her. It’s not simply a rape of her, it’s a rape of him as well. I understand that. And I understand Eve trying to comfort him afterwards, because she understands that as well. But it was rape. And it’s graphic enough that it made me uncomfortable. It’s not written in the sensual way that the sex scenes between them are written, but it is not vague either.
Later in the book, Roarke admits that the reason the subliminal was able to push him there was because he was that person at one time. He’s pushed himself beyond it, but it still resides inside him. I’m struggling a little bit with what he means at one point when he says that he used to be that person. With all the “it wasn’t rape” discussion in the book, I’m quite sure that JDR doesn’t mean that Roarke was a rapist at one point, or little better. Maybe she means uncaring of his partner’s enjoyment? I don’t know. But what had happened was rape. And I struggle with Roarke ever being that person.
Then again, it’s not handled anything like rape. Eve gets over it, getting mad and going after the person responsible. Roarke gets at least some measure of vengeance against the person that used him, and hurt Eve. And then it’s never thought of again. Argh.
Eve has remembered, vividly, in the past few books how her father raped her repeatedly during her childhood. She still has nightmares, though she consistently states, to herself and others, that she’s remade herself. She has remade herself, but it’s not something she’s “over.” Not that I’d expect her to get over it. But I can’t imagine that there would be no ill aftereffects from what happened in that closet. Logically, she knows that Roarke was not himself in that moment. Logically. But logic does not change instinctual or emotional reactions.
The murders were a nice backstory in this book. It wasn’t what took center stage for me, though the subliminal side-story did. I found that fascinating – until the closet. From there, I was just waiting for it to be over.