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Celebrity In Death by J.D. Robb
Review by Paul Haggerty
Putnam Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780399158308
Date: 21 February 2012 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The Alcove Agenda: The big screen adaptation of one of Lt. Eve Dallas' strangest cases, is being filmed on location and Dallas and her partner, Delia Peabody, find themselves on set watching the filming. All things considered, Dallas finds the world of movie magic to be even stranger than crime fighting. Watching actress Marlo Durn, performing before the camera, pretending to be Eve, investigating a crime scene that the real Dallas had once been in charge of, is surreal and frankly a little creepy. But Mason Roundtree, the director, is a stickler for authenticity, and he's sparing no expense recreating the case, using journalist Nadine Furst's blockbuster book as the source for his blockbuster movie. So with so much attention to detail, it's a pity the woman chosen to play Peabody has a personality so diametrically opposite that of the ever cheerful, warm-hearted detective. So much so that it's only a slight pity to most her fellow actors when KT. Harris turns up dead.

Durn has been studying Eve for some time and she's impressed by what she's found. However, Harris is playing the part of Peabody, and hates everything about Peabody, and her role in the movie. She has been constantly harassing everyone within earshot about how her role should be more prominent. So much so that when, during a screening of the movie's blooper reel, with the senior staff, actors, and real-life counterparts all present, Harris is found dead in the roof's swimming pool, nobody's particularly broken up over it. Well other than Durn, and Matthew Zenk, who plays Ian McNab, Peabody's significant other. The two of them are quite understandably upset at having found the body of a coworker after sneaking upstairs for a bit of alone time. But just how much of it is from finding a body, and how much from finding that specific body?

So Eve is faced with a surplus of suspects, some of whom are her closest friends, none of whom can seem to corroborate anyone else's alibi, despite all being in the same room. Everyone's story is similar: It was too dark; they must have been behind me; or I was too busy watching the show. And while investigating potential suspects is never easy, investigating this group is even more so. Having grown used to being in the public eye, they've developed complex skills for hiding the parts of their lives they don't want known. Journalist or cop, it makes little difference to them. And, as you might expect, there are a lot of secrets. If Eve is going to figure out Whodunit, first she's going to need to figure out Whydunit. K.T. Harris was despised for so many reasons, and by so many people, that it's hard to limit the field. Plus you can't limit it to just the principles. Each person has additional family and friends, all with pasts of their own. Not to mention short and long term interests, all mixing and matching whichever way Eve looks. But there is a murderer amongst them, and when it comes to catching killers, Eve was born to play the part.

The thing to remember about the In Death series, is that the murder is never quite what it seems. In a normal murder mystery, a person dies, you find the person that would most benefit, and nine times out of ten, you have the murderer. Even in some of the Eve Dallas mysteries, the murderer is named right away, and the book is about the trouble of proving it. But this is not one of those. This is one of those mysteries where the clues are layered with multiple misdirections, and it's going to take both the detective and the reader a while to peel back the lies and finally expose the truth. All the while hoping the murderer doesn't strike again.

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