This month for my 12 in 12 Challenge I am looking at series books. Every book I am reading and reviewing is part of a longer series of books. I have said before how much I enjoy reading books in sets because I like following a character or a series of events after I am invested in them. Some series are two or three books and some go on for a long time. Sue Grafton famously was writing one book titled with each letter of the alphabet for her private investigator character Kinsey Milhone. Sadly she recently died after 25 books so the family have declared that for them the alphabet finishes at Y.
Few authors write as many books as that in a series but the very notable exception is the author Nora Roberts writing under the penname JD Robb. Golden in Death is the fiftieth book in her series featuring the detective Eve Dallas and set in a slightly futuristic New York. As far as I can see the author writes two of these titles per year as well as a few under her real name. There has been speculation on the Internet that she uses ghost writers to keep up this level of writing activity but I know nothing about that.
I first found this series in the local library when there were only one or two of them in print and I have acquired each new title as it is published. In this case I bought it when newly published to treat myself during lockdown (all my lockdown treats either make me fatter or add to my to-be-read pile). I read this book on my Kindle.
I want to say first of all that I don’t think that the quality of these books has deteriorated at all from the first to this point. At one stage in the series the author concentrated a lot more on the private lives and relationships of her characters but for the past few titles the crime has been at the forefront of the story which I think I prefer. I had rather expected that this book would be special in some way other than the title to acknowledge the landmark of fifty books in the series but actually it isn’t..
Eve and her team investigate the seemingly senseless murder of a man in his own home by a nerve agent which is in a parcel he opens. When there is a second, similar death her team have to work out what the connection is quickly before there are more. The book is told from the point of view of Eve as she wrestles with the puzzle and there are lots of humorous touches about her issues with her husband’s wealth, her desire to pick locks, her lack of interest in clothes and her habit of questioning phrases that we use in everyday speech. These litter the narrative and are particularly amusing if you know the books and characters well. The author has a huge supporting cast of characters for these books and many of them appear here, although not all.
I noticed that the author used the word gold quite a lot in this book, especially at the beginning, and that every time she used it it was to describe something tawdry or unnecessarily shiny. The theme of the book is about that too, in that people who seemingly have everything don’t appreciate it and use their power and wealth to target others. The author admires those who work hard and have earned their wealth, or at least use what they are given for good.
The plot of this book holds together pretty well if you accept the motivation of the killer. You really don’t need to think too carefully about the way that the investigation is run, the use of people Eve knows as “consultants”, the way that Eve seems to be able to work from home and reveal confidential information to all and sundry, and other unbelievable elements. These books are not meant to be taken very seriously but I have to say that they are page turners. The author knows how to engage the reader and she has kept delivering for fifty titles.
I wonder if, in a few years’ time, we will have Century in Death ?