on August 7, 2008
I really enjoyed the depiction of the relationship between Roarke and Eve. They weren't lovey-dovey all the time, but neither were they constantly annoying each other. They fought, they made up, they bantered, and they took care of each other. Their relationship wasn't perfect, but without having to explain things in the narrative, it was clear they knew each other very well and really cared about each other, in a way that goes beyond the flash of infatuation and physical attraction depicted in so many stories. Their marriage rang true for me.
Actually, all the characterizations were well done. As the 22nd book in the series, the characters could all have become really flat, relying on earlier character traits to justify their actions and relationships, but they weren't. Even the minor characters clearly had their own personalities and backstories, and as a character-driven reader, it made me a happy little page-turner. On occasion, Eve would say something to irritate me, but it was always in character and usually some small detail that would have blown over by the time I flipped the page.
The mystery moved along at a nice pace, fast enough that things seemed to keep happening, but not enough to overwhelm me with details. I did find the whodunnit part predictable, having worked it out for myself fairly early on in the story, although to be fair, Eve had things more or less figured out sooner than I thought she would have, considering the length of the book. Being a police officer, though, she had certain channels she had to go through to get the evidence to back up her conclusions, something the reader doesn't have to do.
The story doesn't end with a "happily ever after;" it's a bittersweet sort of ending, which I simultaneously like and dislike. I found it very true to life, and a touch that makes the book stand out amongst others of its type. On the other hand, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I just am. So while it ended on a realistic note, it was perhaps not the most satisfying conclusion I could think of. Then again, it's not my story, so I don't really get a vote.
I enjoyed the story as a brief escape, and if another in the series fell into my lap, I'd have no hesitation in reading it, although I don't think I'll be breaking my bank account to procure myself copies of the rest of the books in series. It was a lovely place to visit, but I won't ever make it my home.
The old holiday tune "Santa Claus Is Comin' To town" was given new meaning when St. Nick plunged some 36 stories to the pavement below. No reindeer or sleigh to catch him - only Lt. Eve Dallas and Detective Peabody trying to keep the crowd back. It is Christmas 2059.
Seems that there had been a company party with refreshments primarily consisting of liquor and chemical packages. Enough to make Santa try to fly over the chimney tops. While Eve well knew she couldn't pin murder on the drug seller, she thought she could get him for something. He was found at Zero's, which was one step up from a dive with revolving bar and private cubicles. The provider is Zero himself, a pint size package of bravado in a loud suit.
Once Eve and Peabody take him in, it is Peabody who interrogates and gets him to give himself up. Case is almost closed, but Eve isn't there to see about it because she has an unexpected and unwanted visitor in her office - Trudy Lombard, her former foster mother, a woman who enjoyed raining insults and abuse on nine-year-old Eve. At the sight of her Eve crumbles as memories of her desperate childhood surface. She tells Trudy to get out and bolts for the safety of home.
Once there Roarke is as protective as ever, vowing not to let Trudy upset Eve again no matter the cost. "Cost" is the operative word as the next day Trudy appears at his office demanding 2 million or she'll tell the media all about Eve's childhood. Of course, Roarke gives her the boot in no uncertain terms.
A day or two later Eve and Roarke go to the hotel where Trudy is staying. Eve wants to confront the harridan herself just to prove that she can do it and not let the destruction of the past resurface to frighten her. That's a confrontation that does not take place as Trudy is found bludgeoned to death on the floor of her hotel room. There's no sign of forced entry and nothing has been taken.
Both Eve and Roarke have an airtight alibi for the time of Trudy's death, but why would anyone in New York want to kill her? More importantly, who?
Voice performer Susan Ericksen does a superb job of conveying Eve's courage and vulnerability. She's especially appealing in the dialogues between Roarke and Eve, and so effective that we can almost see the cruel, conniving Trudy.
- Gail Cooke