Yay! The things that made Robb's "in Death" series "hard to put down" are back. The pacing is fast, and urgent. The villans are dispicable, vicious, and bloodthirsty pyschopaths. The secondary characters are sartorially wacky, darke humored, dedicated, and intelligent. We have the supportive husband, the warm mother figure, and "Good Management" in contrast to the myoptic, incompetant Feebee directors hamstringing their field agent, and rustic good'o-boy sheriff departments that wrote off past victims as accidents. The ending is a bit anticlimatic compared to the buildup. So the ride is definitly the point, not the destination.
We also have two new side characters to consider. First, DeWinter finally makes a plot impact in an assertive series of forensic anthropologist briefings to Dallas. She's not exactly new, but she was pretty peripheral in the previous 3 books. Here, her skills and connections allows Dallas to find our pyscho-couple's origins. A lot of reviews seem to like small town deputy Will Banner and his "country boy in the big city" reactions. But I found it too stereotyped and predictable. I also thought the way he slid right into Dallas' NYPSD Homicide team a bit unbelievable.
The main character development happens to the Homicide Squad. Each of her detectives get a share of the spotlight. Our favourite patrolman gets a chance to advance, if he can hold it together while racing to find our villians hours before his exam. The Candy Thief strikes again. But is it really Baxter? Or is it just a red herring by the author?
I kinda miss seeing Mavis, Charles, and Nadine - the longest of the secondary characters. But they would have chewed up time that the victoms could not afford. In fact I think Banner played that relief role AND helped carry the plot forward at the same time. So maybe Robb should start rotating the support cast through the new books, instead of bringing them all through.
Anyway. Devoted in Death is tight, funny, fast paced, with passages that make me think J.D. Robb actually wrote the thing instead of phoning it in or using a bad ghost writer. It still does not come up to the standards of the first three books. But this installment returns back to the writing and suspense that first hooked me when Nora Roberts decided to use a psuedonym to publish grittier mysteries starring very damaged protagonists.
PS. We finally see Galahad steal that bacon slice, in that running joke between Roarke and the cat.