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on June 6, 2004
We continue to be astounded at the publishing pace of Nora Roberts. Despite her "regular" books under her own name, these fun NYPD homicide Lt. Eve Dallas stories, written as "JD Robb", keep coming at the rate of one or two a year. "Imitation...", the 17th entry in the "... In Death" series, is not the emotional blockbuster of the just prior two ("Purity..." and "Portrait..."), but nonetheless entertains throughout this tough-minded police procedural. When a licensed companion (that's a "hooker" in year 2059 parlance) is found brutally murdered in the style of Jack the Ripper, followed in quick succession by the killing of a popular female apartment dweller, slain Boston Strangler style, it doesn't take the two notes recovered from the bodies, on unusual stationary, to clue any of us that a vicious copycat serial killer is on the loose. When it turns out the notes are addressed to Dallas personally, it's also clear that she herself is probably on the intended hit list, providing immense worry to her billionaire but loving husband Roarke. His role in this novel, as in many of the prior tales, is one of Eve's crime-solving sidekick, along with faithful aide Officer Delia Peabody. Fortunately, the notepaper provides a small roster of immediate suspects, but Robb cleverly keeps us guessing, 'til like ten pages before the end, which of the half dozen users of the stationary might be the real sicko. While a sub-plot of sorts involves Peabody's trials and tribulations getting ready for her detective's exam, the storyline is very much ala Ellery Queen in terms of clues, follow-up, and solid police work. Eve's intuition serves her well, but her assembling and processing of the clues is flawless as she gradually zeroes in, then sucks in, the bad guy.
Eve's hardships as an abused young girl, and her husband's often "shady" background provide the usual backdrop to much of the motivation of the principals. Their marital relationship is always a subject of both display and discussion. Meanwhile, Peabody's moving in with McNab, another regular, provides a foil in "examining" the nature of adults living together. We're still big fans of the whole set, and at the point when many similar ongoing character series novels have long gone stale, find continued enjoyment in Dallas' pursuits. We think you will too!
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on September 2, 2003
Personal notes attached to the victims draw Eve Dallas into a case where she trails a murderer imitating historical serial killers. Peabody is worried about her detective's exam and moving in with McNab. Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up this book. The other 'In Death' murder mysteries were usually gripping and new readers could enjoy those stories, even if they were unfamiliar with the series' characters. I don't believe that is the case with this book. I found the murder mystery to be recycled and predictable and thought the story just dragged. All the regular chararacters were stagnant. Mavis, Nadine, Feeney, Morris, Trueheart and even Summerset were thrown into the story as afterthoughts. Some of the scenes with Eve and Roarke were cute but there was no additional evolution of their relationship.

I have followed the 'In Death' series from the first book, but this is my least favorite. Like the other fans of the series, I'm hooked and will buy the future 'In Death' novels as soon as they come out, but I definitely do not recommend this book for a new reader. If this was a reader's first book in the series, they would never pick up another and that would be a shame because most are really good stories.
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on September 7, 2003
I greatly enjoyed "Imitation in Death." The mystery was solid, as was the background on Lt. Eve Dallas' police work and the growth of her character.
The main drawback of this installment of the series is the lack of interaction with the secondary characters. Even Roarke seemed a little cookie cutter this go-round. However, having said that, I believe there is a legitimate reason for it that goes deeper than lack of inspiration.
Essentially, the character of Eve was feeling cut off from her loved ones in this story. She was dealing with inner demons quite a bit -- not as dramatically as in some previous books, but nonetheless she was definitely withdrawn to some degree while she dealt with new information about her past. Also, several of the secondary characters, such as Peabody, were dealing with life changes and were not their "usual selves."
I think that the story functioned as a mirror of Eve's own innerlooking attitude, life changes of several characters, and finally and perhaps most importantly as a bridge to the next phase of the series. I won't say what that phase is -- you will know as soon as you finish the book -- because I don't want to spoil the story.
But believe me, while the story itself may not satisfy the reader as much as Roberts' earlier installments, I think that it serves its purpose perfectly and sets up a lot of new things that will keep the series as a whole fresh for years to come.
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on August 26, 2003
I rushed down to the store to get this yesterday, and unlike the last one [Portrait], which left me feeling a bit hurried and miffed, this one had a lot of the best things about this series. Eve Dallas has some very good moments in this book - the mystery makes sense (the murderer is actually one of the main suspects this time), still managing to keep the reader guessing. It plays out well, and the murders manage to impress upon the reader the appropriate sense of disgust intended.
The main characters mostly have some good points in this book, although I was a bit weirded out by Roberts' description of Morris (he is suddenly described with the adjective 'exotic' on two consecutive pages). Peabody is taking the detective exam, McNab is being lovey-dovey with the aforementioned, and Roarke is getting through the loss discovered in Portrait. There's a lack of Feeney in this book, as well as Nadine, but it plays out better for it, especially since Portrait had characters experiencing Significant Moments of Life every five pages. Not that this book isn't lacking in the odd character moment here and there, but it works anyway. For Lt. Dallas herself, there is a big flashback - and a fascinating one, for it's about the person that her brandy-colored eyes are from - and no, it's not her dad.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the Eve-Roarke dynamic, and in this book, they're awfully cute in this book, and such fun to read. I don't mean gushy cute, thank goodness, but they're a highly amusing couple. A favorite moment of mine is Eve watching, with some baffled horror, as Roarke cooks, and I don't mean with an Auto-Chef. More than ever, I think this couple has really settled into a comfortable dynamic, the way that only they can do it.
One of the reasons it's such fun to read this is because of how the characters have grown throughout the books. I feel that Roberts' other books often lost realism in the characters, with the books themselves too often ending with a tidily engaged couple and pregnant female. However, the In Death series gives her the chance to naturally grow these characters, and it's really evident in this book. Compare Imitation to Naked or Glory, and it's actually a little scary to see how these characters - especially Eve and Roarke - have changed, but they've done so together, and it's sweetly romantic.
Last word: this isn't a book for new readers. It would be completely confusing, very bizarre, and without the enjoyment of seeing how these beloved characters continue to change. There is an unusually high amount of references to other J.D. Robbs here(there was even a reference to Interlude in Death), and although it's nice for the devoted reader, it can be nothing but bizarre to a newbie. In the end, this was a very entertaining book - I think one of the best in this series - and though there were no previews, I look very forward to buying Remember When in a few weeks and Divided in Death in the new year. :>
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on August 31, 2003
There is some excellent plot and character in this latest Robb book. First off, if you've never read any of the J.D. Robb series, you're missing out, and shouldn't start here, but with 'Naked in Death' the first in the series.

Eve Dallas is a tough detective in an even tougher future New York. In 'Imitation in Death,' the latest serial killer is imitating the serial killers of history, and has left notes for Dallas - all but taunting her inability to make it stop. While Dallas does her usual hard-ass investigation, the list of suspects quickly fills itself - with important and influential individuals. She certainly can't afford to mess this one up.

With help from her sexy-to-the-"ult" husband Roarke (no other name) and her relationship-jittery aide Delia Peabody, Eve tries to hunt down the baddie with her usual zest and sarcasm. Her bafflement with all things feminine and family continues, and the sub-plot of Eve's slowly uncovering amnesia/repression about her family gets a little further in this book - with some startling results.

Even better, the secondary characters we all know and love - Peabody especially, taking her Detective's test - all get a bit of book-time in 'Imitation in Death.' They grow, change, and interact with the sassy style you're used to from Robb, and with awesome results.

You'll find it ult. Icy, even. But definitely murder.

'Nathan
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on September 7, 2003
I have read every "In Death" book in the entire series, and each time I finish an entry like "Imitation in Death," I am chafing at the bit for the next one.
"Imitation in Death" is one of the better books in the series, because it so adeptly weaves together the ongoing stories of the main characters with the very well-drawn plot at hand: A serial killer is showing off for Eve, modeling each of his horrendous murders after a "classic" killer, from Jack the Ripper to the Boston Strangler to a fictional perpetrator who supposedly plied his trade in the 2020s.
Now, in the 2050s, Eve must stop him before he runs completely amok--and her main suspects include some very famous people. Meanwhile, down on the home front, Eve and Roarke's relationship is better than ever (this is one of the main draws of the series, to my mind) as Eve savors the last days without her hated adversary Summerset, the major domo (butler!) of Roarke's estate, who was sent on vacation in the last book.
Peabody and McNab have made a "mag" and major decision, which has Peabody in a tizzy as she studies for her detective's exam. Will she make it? And Mavis and Leonardo are busy garbing Mavis in outrageous maternity clothes that only she could wear--and only he could design.
Absolutely a winner. I was sad when I finished the last page. Note to Nora (J.D. Robb): Hurry up with the next one! PLEASE!
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on September 2, 2003
I really do like the '..in death' series. But I must admit I was a little disappointed by this particular book. Yes, the murder mystery part was well done, as always. But that's not what makes this series special, at least not from my point of view. It is watching the characters evolve and develop. Not only Eve and Roarke, and their relationship, but all the other 'side' characters that have been introduced in the previous books. In 'Imitation in Death', all the side characters are mentioned once, as if for form's sake. I would have preferred if J.D. Robb had concentrated more on one of them, but had told a real story about him or her. Also, Eve and Roarke carry on as usual, fighting, making up, but there is little character development. To sum it up, hardly anything happens in this book, exept for a murder mystery. That makes it a good book, but not an exceptional one. I hope this is not a sign that J.D. Robb is running out of ideas for her characters, and I'm looking forward to the next (hopefully better) book in the series.
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on September 1, 2003
I buy the J.D. Robb books like most people go to movies they really want to see-on the first day they're available. Then, I read it cover to cover-no matter how late, no matter what time I have to get up in the morning-I have to match wits with Eve Dallas, Roarke, and the crew to see if I can guess who the killer is. The one thing I LOVE about this series (and Nora Roberts in general) is that I'm always guessing until the last clue is in place. Not so with this particular installment of the 'In Death' series.
I don't want to spoil it for those who read this book, but there's a VERY VERY big clue that reveals the killer's identity right off the bat, and it's so obvious you almost miss it. When I realized it, I was so upset, because that's the fun for me. This is the first book I've acutally been able to put down and leave for awhile-the first that didn't fully engage me to the point that everything else is a distraction. All of the qualities that makes these books so much fun are there-Roarke and Eve's love for one another, McNabb and Peabody getting more committed, Summerset (he's back!!!); and let's not forget the witty reparte' the characters have. The book got off to a very slow start for me, and I didn't enjoy this book as much as the rest. It's saying something that it took book 17 for me to get disheartened, so lets hope that "Remember When" and the next "In Death" novel makes up for this slight misstep in an otherwise great series.
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on September 6, 2003
J.D. Robb has done it again! This the 17th book, I believe, centering around the heroine Lt. Eve Dallas and it is another hit by J.D. Robb! Our favorite Lieutenant is up against intelligent killer who has studied and made serial killers of the past his heros. Peabody takes the detective exam so be sure and read the book and find out whats going to happen with that! This is a great book! Definately worth the reading time even if your don't regularly read J.D. Robb.
The reader is presented with the normal cast of returning characters. What makes this book interesting to me beyond the great story is this is the second book since the author changed her tone of writing. It is my belief that the first 15 books with the much gritier and grimmer writing style gives the reader a glimps into the soul of Lt. Eve Dallas as it where. In latest 2 books the writing style as lighted considerably. Not to say Dallas is any less of a great cop or that her personality has been changed by the author. No its more as if some of the deep mental wounds have been healed to an extent that while Dallas is still a hardass she's enjoying living more.
Another great Lt. Eve Dallas mystery, definately worth the read!
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on September 2, 2003
The summer of 2059 is a scorcher and crime is on the rise but Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and security department has a very high profile case that takes up all her time. The body of a prostitute is found in a back alley in Chinatown and the way she was killed is identical to Jack the Ripper's signature. On the toe of the victim is a letter addressed to Eve challenging her to try and catch him.
The only clue he left behind is the stationary addressed to Eve that is illegal in this country since it is not recycled. Only a few outlets in Europe sells them and Eve is able to get the names of the people who bought it who are now living in New York. All the suspects are rich and powerful so Eve has to tread carefully even when the perpetrator strikes two more times mimicking The Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy. Eve is in a race against time before the suspect kills again but she needs one more piece of evidence before she can take him down.
J.D. Robb has written another exciting futuristic romantic mystery that will have fans of many genres clamoring to read it. IMITATION IN DEATH brings back secondary characters including Peabody, Eve's assistant, who is preparing to take her detective's exam and move in with her lover. The heroine solves this dark and gritty case with her usual panache and a little help from her busy billionaire husband Roarke.
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