Fantasy in Death
by J.D. Robb
Review by Gayle Surrette
Putnam Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780399156243
Date: 23 February 2010 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Bart Minnock, one of four founding partners of U-Play, is found dead in his apartment. Not just dead but locked in his game room. Every test shows that no one but Bart entered the room and no one left it, including Bart. Yet, here is the body, and over there is the head, and Bart certainly didn't kill himself. This is a case Eve Dallas knows is going to take a bit of thinking outside the box.
Locked room mysteries have always fascinated me. Most of them are really cheats as there's a secret passage or some alternate way to enter the room. Others are easily solved because the last person to see the victim was the killer who locked the door on the way out. Well, none of these apply to Fantasy in Death. I'm a geek, so I pretty much figured out the basic method within a few chapters, but nevertheless figuring out how is far less important than figuring out why and who.
Four friends founded a game company immediately after leaving college. The company, U-Play, developed some games that established it as a real contender in a very cut-throat market. Their success was based, in no small part, to using the skill sets of each of the partners where they could do the most good. But were they all happy with this state of affairs? Did someone want more of the share of the company? Eve has to look at the surviving partners and estimate their killer potential.
Adding to the mix is the fact that, of course, Roarke knew the victim. In fact, he'd tried to hire him and ending up helping him get his business off the ground. So, when Eve needs EDD and a talented civilian consultant, Roarke is ready to help.
As with any series the usual cast of characters is available to help solve the crime, keep the tension up, add a touch of humor, and keep the story grounded in the here-and-now of the world in which the crime took place. Much has changed between our time and 2065, but people are still people. Eve is still trying to figure out relationships: friendships, marriages, and partnerships.
While the murder, its solution, and the bringing of the killer to justice is the core of the story, the underlying theme is one of relationships. How do we form them? How do we keep them strong and alive? How do we maintain them? And, what happens when it's one-sided?
You'd think that after 30 books in the in Death series, including this one, it would be getting a bit stale. You'd be wrong. Robb has managed to continue to surprise either with the central mystery, a changing character, or with the underlying theme that make the book more than just a police procedural/mystery. This one offers all three.
All of the books can stand alone as Robb manages to give you needed information on the characters and their world as the story progresses. However, if you enjoy one book, you'll probably enjoy them all since the crimes never duplicate and the solutions are always a bit unexpected and twisty.