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Survivor in Death    by J. D. Robb order for
Survivor in Death
by J. D. Robb
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

After twenty books in this high octane series, it's hard to believe that only two years have passed in Eve Dallas's fictional world. Marriage to Roarke has mellowed Eve's brusque attitude and, with the help of Dr. Mira (and also her husband) she's been coming to grips with her tormented childhood. Then the Swisher case falls into Eve's lap.

Nixie Swisher is left orphaned after her entire family are murdered in their beds. After exhaustive investigation there are few clues as to why the Swishers were marked for what appears to be an execution style killing carried out with military precision. It was only by a twist of fate that Nixie was spared, after she sneaked into the kitchen for a snack. Now she must deal not only with the loss of her family, but also the death of her best friend Linnie Dyson, who slept over for the weekend; the killers mistook her for Nixie. Even so, the child had enough presence of mind to stay hidden, call 911 and then exact a promise from Eve that she would find the people who shattered her world.

Eve doesn't do well with children; being around them, especially in this circumstance, brings back too many memories from her own bleak, tormented childhood. Even so she knows that no ordinary safe house would stop these particular killers from finding Nixie once they realized they'd left a potential witness alive. Against regulations Eve whisks Nixie into her own home, knowing that no one could get past Roarke's impeccable security. When others close to Nixie begin dying, including two cops who'd been guarding a social worker, Eve and her team get even more serious. Eve leaves no stone unturned in her relentless quest to find and cage those responsible for such callous carnage.

Unfortunately, this installment wasn't as captivating as past offerings. Though the interplay between the series regulars is as entertaining as ever, the usual red herrings were missing. The identity of the killers and their motive was made pretty clear early on and the rest of the story followed Eve's usual single-minded quest to flush them out. Also as usual, she skirts past various protocols and enlists the help of her husband to retrieve otherwise unobtainable information. When the final confrontation finally happens it's no big surprise that Nixie puts herself in danger and that Eve rides to her rescue and to take out the bad guys.

Survivor in Death is certainly a solid story, but I think it's time for Robb to shake things up a bit and take her characters in a new direction that's been hinted at in the last few books.

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