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Innocent in Death    by J. D. Robb order for
Innocent in Death
by J. D. Robb
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When a popular history teacher is found dead at his desk from an apparent poisoning, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called in to investigate. Craig Foster's colleagues at the prestigious Upper West side private academy are shocked that such a gentle man could have enemies, while parents raise concerns that their impressionable children might be traumatized for life. It's soon clear that Foster's homemade cocoa was laced with ricin and that his death had not been an easy one. Eve's investigations point to another staff member whose frequent sexual follies on school property were witnessed by the victim; plenty of incentive for cold-blooded murder, Eve figures. But when her number one suspect is found floating face down in the academy's pool a few days later, the case bogs down and leaves Eve and her team baffled and digging deeper to find new leads.

As always, Eve's murder case is the focus of the story - and as always Robb does a marvelous job with the procedural aspects as Eve and her team work hard to unravel one of their most baffling cases to date. This time however, Eve's single-minded focus on nabbing an elusive killer is severely fractured when a woman from Roarke's past breezes into town. For the first time in her two-year marriage Eve doubts Roarke's love for her, after witnessing a single moment when her husband looks at Magdelana Purcell with a private emotion that he reserves only for his wife.

That telling moment leaves Eve completely unnerved. Even crusty major domo Summerset takes her aside with a concerned warning that Roarke has a blind spot where Magdelana Purcell is concerned. This revelation fuels various insecurities Eve generally keeps locked away, and rather than facing off with her husband - and Magdelana - Eve chooses avoidance. To make matters worse, Roarke believes he's done nothing wrong by agreeing to lunch with his old flame or offering her business advice. Robb does a wonderful job creating stark emotional tension and marital crisis as well as revealing further insights into Eve's guarded persona. Unlike many of the previous installments, there are plenty of hints about the killer's identity - which juxtaposes nicely with Eve's personal crisis and her loss of focus. Even so, the final revelations pack a solid and disturbing punch. Innocent in Death is another fine edition to this gritty, one-of-a-kind futuristic romance series.

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