Betrayal in Death

Ceremony in Death

Conspiracy in Death

Divided in Death

Holiday in Death

Imitation in Death

Immortal In Death

Judgment in Death

Loyalty in Death

Out of This World

Portrait in Death

Purity in Death

Rapture in Death

Reunion in Death

Seduction in Death

Silent Night

Vengeance in Death

Witness in Death

Visions in Death by J.D. Robb
(Putnam, $21.95, PG) 0-399-15171-0
Iíve been reading Nora Robertsí In Death novels for more than nine years now and consider the series to be groundbreaking in its unique combination of futuristic setting, suspense and romance. But for the first time I found myself Ė dare I say it? Ė just a little bit bored while reading the nineteenth installment. The series has succeeded because of its dual strengths: clever suspense plots and engaging characters whose relationships grow and change. Unfortunately, neither aspect shines in Visions in Death. †

New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas takes on a particularly grisly case in the late summer of 2059. A young woman has been found dead in Central Park, viciously beaten and sadistically raped. Most chillingly, the killer cut out the victimís eyes. The young woman turns out to be a single mother who worked as a nanny for a wealthy couple Ė certainly not someone involved in any suspicious activities or with any natural enemies. Itís a easy conclusion that the dead woman was the innocent victim of a crazed murderer. †

With very few clues or leads, Dallas reluctantly accepts the help of psychic Celina Sanchez, who comes forward claiming to have had a vision about the crime. Eve has always believed that good, honest cop work is the only way to solve a case, but Eveís friend Louise Dimatto vouches for Celina, so Eve reluctantly agrees to give her a chance. But will Celinaís special skills provide a clear enough picture to catch the killer before he strikes again? †

This story disappointed me on several levels. First, the crime itself: I donít recall the story behind every criminal in the eighteen books that preceded Visions in Death, but the psychopath who kills because of inner demons from his past has been done before Ė if not by Robb, then by many other authors. Thereís nothing particularly original about the crime, or the path that Dallas takes to identify and catch him. †

Then thereís the personal involvement in the novelís characters. In Robbís previous release, Divided in Death, Dallas and her fabulous husband Roarke strongly disagreed about how to handle new information regarding Eveís tragic childhood. That conflict was the greatest test their marriage had faced, and although I knew they would eventually reconcile my heart was in my throat throughout their estrangement. In contrast, in Visions in Death things are just ducky between our married couple.

Thereís no strife between loyal Detective Delia Peabody and her main squeeze, the flamboyant Electronic Detective Ian McNabb either Ė the two are busy planning the final details of their upcoming cohabitation. Eveís friend Mavis is still pregnant and eccentric. Even Dr. Louise is happy with her lover, gigolo-for-hire Charles Monroe. There are almost no new major developments among the characters to keep the reader hooked. The change in dynamics is more subtle as Dallas gingerly explores the complexity of human relationships, most notably as she tries to determine how to balance her professional partnership and personal friendship with Peabody. †

There was no reason to sequester myself in my room so I could avoid interruptions as I read Vision. I kept waiting to feel the usual excitement and engagement that I experience every six months when a new In Death book is released. Finally, during the last 70 pages of the novel, a major character is put in serious danger, and suddenly the book reaches the canít-put-it-down threshold. There is also a twist to the suspense plot that, although it shouldnít be a complete surprise to the discerning reader, is still an intriguing development. That last section of the book was strong enough to make me consider giving Visions in Death a 4-heart rating, but the strong ending wasnít enough to completely redeem the novel. †

Some things in life and In Death are given. Eve doesnít get along well with computers and vending machines. Peabody is always hungry. Summerset and Eve live to insult each other. Roarke owns half of the known world. And itís also a safe bet that there will be another case, another book, and Iíll be sure to read it. I just hope Nora Roberts isnít afraid to shake things up a little bit and take more chances next time. †

--Susan Scribner

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