Payback in Death is J. D. Robb’s 57th installment in her bestselling In Death series, and it shows. That is a lot of time to spend with character development and world building. This book is filled with the nods to earlier cases, supporting characters, and events both everyday and momentous that die hard fans keep going back.
At this point, Lt. Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department has been married to the charming former thief turned billionaire, Roarke for three years. The book starts off with them on a much deserved holiday in Greece celebrating their anniversary. It quickly transitions to them taking a side trip to Ireland to spend time with Roarke’s family before heading home to New York. They are charming and some of the writing done was obviously and intentionally setting up groundwork for future books, making sure that you remember that character for when they’re brought up again. Even if it’s not necessarily this book. I mention it, because it’s 40 pages that are completely divorced from the rest of the book, which was a little odd.
Once they’re back in New York, Eve gets a call from dispatch before she even reports back for duty. A cop has been found dead and the circumstances are suspicious. What’s more, it’s a retired internal affairs officer, so there are MANY potential suspects. As a result, this case involves a lot of grunt police work to rule out possibilities.
The little vignettes that are nods to the character and world building in earlier installments are a welcome break from the grind of eliminating suspects one by one. Especially since there are no obvious clues left by the perpetrator(s). The awkward part is that they would have little-to-no meaning for a reader trying to jump into the series with this book.
Would I recommend Payback in Death? It’s rated nearly 5 stars on Amazon after thousands of reviews. I’m not going to go that high. For fans of the series, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Not so much for first-time readers, 2 stars.