Saturday, December 24, 2016

Apprentice in Death

Apprentice in Death - J.D. Robb
Release Date: September 6, 2016

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Synopsis: The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice-skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.

Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD but never one like this. A review of the security videos reveals that the victims were killed with a tactical laser rifle fired by a sniper, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the list of locations where the shooter could have set up seems endless, the number of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two—one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil...


What begins as an apparently random set of long distance murders at a skating rink turns into a race against time, a former cop gone bad, and his psychopathic but skilled teenage daughter.  Lt. Eve Dallas is presented with murders not only extremely difficult to have carried out, but the haunting question: is this a random killing or the beginning of something more?  Of course the answer is choice B.  While that's bad news for the victims it's good news for Eve because a pattern emerges behind the seemingly random  targets.  

As the last several In Death books have shown, just because you know the why and the who doesn't necessarily make for an easy arrest.  The twist in this case being that Dallas thinks she's looking for one killer, and discovers she has two. The next twist comes after the second attack, which claims the life of a NYPSD cop among the victims, when they learn that one of the killers was himself a cop.  The other killer? His 15 year old daughter.

In Apprentice Eve wrestles with questions of nature vs nurture and finds herself comparing who she was as a child to the shooter, Willow.  Could Eve have become the same person?  What makes a killer?  Roarke (as always!) is standing ready to convince Eve, as forcefully or tenderly as possible that she could never be that killer.  The other main theme in Apprentice is justice. When the system fails you, do you have the right to take justice into your own hands?  What's the difference between justice and revenge?  It's interesting that from the outside as a reader we might clearly see things one way, Robb does an excellent job of showing us the minds of the killers and their way of thinking.  Mackie was a cop who stood to help people but when he loses his wife his version of justice changes.  Why should other people get to be happy when he isn't, why does someone else have the right to a happy marriage when his wife is dead?   

The characters we've grown to know and love continue to shine.  With the growing cast of characters, not all can get equal time and some people may be disappointed by not seeing much of McNab, Feeney or Mira.  But there are some great scenes between Eve and Nadine, and some brilliantly played Interviews with Dallas, Peabody, and Reo- all of whom really seemed to enjoy playing roles against the killers.  Robb has a talent for combining the best and the worst of humanity in truly horrifying and gritty crime scenes and this shows best after a shooting scene where Eve checks in on Mavis, Leonardo, Nadine and even the terrifying Trina, as well as a perfectly pitched interaction between Eve and Summerset.  Robb also gives us another stunningly creepy child killer in Willow Mackie.    

At book 43 in the In Death series J. D. Robb is still going strong.  Where other authors might have grown stale or run out of things to do, Robb continues to bring not only excellent mysteries but also added layers and twists to the very human characters at the heart of the series.  Fast paced, witty, and edge of your seat action, Apprentice in Death does not disappoint!  

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