The above quotation, which J.D. Robb utilizes to introduce this novella, effectively captures the essence of the murders which form the basis of this story. INTERLUDE IN DEATH was originally released in an anthology titled OUT OF THIS WORLD, a collection of futuristic stories by four well known women authors. It can be understood as a standalone story, but its brevity does not allow the amount of character development or background information that is available in the full length novels. Thus, my rating reflects those factors and I believe will be shared by listeners familiar with the series' main characters, who undoubtedly will find this more enjoyable than those unfamiliar with the ... IN DEATH series. This story takes place during the spring of 2059, it was published chronologically after BETRAYAL IN DEATH, the twelfth full-length novel in the series.
Eve Dallas is upset - her commanding officer has placed her in a situation that involves three things that she detests; attending social events, public speaking and off-planet travel. He has scheduled her to make a presentation at a seminar during an interplanetary police conference being held at Roarke's spectacular new Olympia resort. Of course, Roarke is delighted, as he views it as a chance to vacation with her and show off the resort, a trip which she undoubtedly would have refused to make if not for the fact that it was an official request which she could not refuse. When they arrive, Roarke has been energized by the space travel while Eve is exhausted by the tension of the trip and her fantasy of the rocket crashing into a stray meteor and her being burned to a crisp by a fire fed by the rocket fuel. Perhaps the only consolation for Eve is that Lt. Peabody, Feeney and Dr. Mira are all at the welcoming reception. Of course, the reader immediately recognizes that the presence of these familiar characters means that this conference will be anything but a restful interlude for Eve and Roarke, and instead will undoubtedly morph into an INTERLUDE IN DEATH.
Eve immediately meets the legendary Commander Douglas R. Skinner, his wife Belle and his adjutant Bryson Hayes. Skinner was wounded during the urban wars and attained the rank of full Commander by the age of 44. He requests a private meeting with Eve at which he makes known his intense dislike of Roarke and insults her with his comments regarding her lack of judgment and the effect it would have on her career. Eve and Roarke are both amazed at his vehemence and his desire to discredit Eve and destroy Roarke, who of course vows to discover the source of Skinner's hatred in order to protect both Eve and her career given the nature of Skinner's reputation and connections.
Soon, a murder occurs and the evidence points to Roarke or someone in his employ. Eve's desire to pursue the investigation is complicated by the fact that the resort is outside her jurisdiction; she soon learns that the police chief of the resort (hired by Roarke) is a strong willed woman with an agenda of her own, Darcia Angelo. Before long (remember this is only a novella), another murder occurs; then Roarke and Eve are almost killed. Eve gradually uncovers the complicated reaons behind Skinner's obsessive behavior, but not in time to keep she and her team safe from a determined killer intent on revenge.
This is an enjoyable fast moving story, although its limited length means there is less character development and a more straightforward plot than in Robb's novels. Nevertheless, the climactic final scenes are as tense and fast moving as in all the full- length stories. In addition, there are two special treats for readers of the series. First, both Roarke and Eve learn previously unknown and interesting details concerning their fathers. (As series readers know, their ability to overcome the terror of their childhoods has strengthened the bond between them.) In fact, as Dr. Mira sagely summarizes one of the lessons for Eve of this episode is "blood doesn't always tell". Second, the conclusion of this story reveals a much more sentimental side to Eve than the reader usually sees. Her complex reactions to the situation are pitch perfect but quite unusual. In conclusion, as Darcia states so aptly, the violence and subsequent investigation were a "hell of a way [for Eve] to stay out of a workshop"; of course, Eve simply hopes that her next vacation will be on her beloved streets of NY.
As usual, Susan Erickson does a superb job as narrator of the story. As a fan of the series who has been gradually attempting to complete the volumes which I have not read, I surprisingly find that I have come to prefer the audio version to the print version. I would therefore suggest that this unabridged CD version is also an easy way for other readers to discover whether they share my enthusiasm for Erickson's narration. The shorter length (only three CDs which total approximately three hours) makes the price very affordable and means a much shorter time commitment than the approximately ten hours of the unabridged novels. In addition, the Brilliance Audio format of very short tracks (average under one minute each but no breaks noticeable to the listener) is incredibly convenient if at times you need to listen in short segments or might be interrupted unexpectedly. Finally, I strongly suggest that new readers interested in the series read (or listen to) at least the first two books in the series (NAKED IN DEATH and GLORY IN DEATH) before sampling the later stories in the series. While I do not believe those are the best entries, they are very good and if not read first the later stories (including this one) contain some potential spoilers regarding Eve's and Roarke's childhoods.