Sep 2 2012 12:30pm

First Look: J.D. Robb’s Delusion in Death (Sept. 11, 2012)

Delusion in Death by J. D. RobbJ.D. Robb
Delusion in Death (In Death #35)
Penguin Group / Sept. 11, 2012 / $27.95 print, $14.99 digital

It was just another after-work happy-hour bar downtown, where business professionals unwound with a few drinks...until something went terribly wrong. And after twelve minutes of chaos and violence, eighty people lay dead.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is trying to sort out the inexplicable events. Surviving witnesses talk about seeing things—monsters and swarms of bees. They describe sudden, overwhelming feelings of fear and rage and paranoia. When forensics gives its report, the mass delusions make more sense: It appears the bar patrons were exposed to a cocktail of chemicals and illegal drugs that could drive anyone to temporary insanity—if not kill them outright.

But that doesn’t explain who would unleash such horror—or why. And if Eve can’t figure it out fast, it could happen again, anytime, anywhere. Because it’s airborne.

As J.D. Robb (a/k/a Nora Roberts) presents us with Lt. Eve Dallas’s 35th case, you would think by now we would have had enough of Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Feeney and the rest of the crew, but even after 35 books and 9 novellas, she can still bring new, fresh ideas and a terrifying story with a frightening twist.

While some of the novels are more Dallas-centric, others are more focused on moving forward the relationships between Dallas and her husband, Roarke, or her partner, Peabody, still others focus the interest on the science fiction aspect of the novels, but in Delusion in Death, we are immersed in everyone’s secret fear, an unprovoked terrorist attack against innocent people which could hit anytime, anywhere, and which could turn your best friend into your killer.

As the series brings us to the Fall of 2060, hard working New Yorkers are stopping on their way home for a little Happy Hour, a quick meeting with friends or a drink after a long day before heading home.  But what no one realizes when they walk in, is that they won’t be going home tonight…most not ever again.  Someone has released a toxic brew of chemicals and hallucinogenic drugs into the air which has caused these unsuspecting citizens of New York to lose their minds and go on a killing spree. 

Lieutenant Eve Dallas stood in the carnage. Always something new, she thought. Always something just a little more terrible than even a cop could imagine. 

Gouged eyes, torn faces, slit throats, heads bashed in so violently she saw pieces of skull and gray matter, only added to the impression of war waged and lost. A few victims were naked, or nearly, the exposed flesh painted with blood like ancient warriors. 

She stood, waiting for the first wave of shock to pass. She’d forgotten she could be shocked.  

Although the effects of the drugs are short term, when released into a packed room of people, such as a bar full of patrons, the mix of drugs causes delusions and feelings fear, anger, and outright rage, and anything from a fork to a piece of furniture becomes a weapon of death.  By the time the effects of the drugs wear off, the carnage caused by friends, lovers, co-workers or strangers is staggering.  The few survivors describe a sudden headache and then an overwhelming fear and a need to destroy the danger that is attacking them. 

“It doesn’t last long. The time line’s giving it about twelve minutes of running time.”

“Time enough. What about the brains?” She jutted her chin toward the one still patiently waiting. “When we dealt with those suicides through mind control, the vics had a kind of burn on the brain.”

“Nothing here.” He moved to the comp., brought up the completed analysis.  “Not on these three or any DBs I’ve gotten reports on. We’ll run more tests, but at this point it appears the substance left no permanent damage other than violent death.”

“That’s pretty fucking permanent.” She stuck her hands in her pockets, scanned the bodies again. “I need everything and anything you get as soon as you get it.”

“You think this is the first, but not the last?”

“Unless this was some twisted form of self-termination and whoever did it is on one of your slabs, yeah. It worked well, why stop now?”

Just like those responsible wanted, the people of New York are terrified.  Nowhere is safe. The violence begins with no warning, and can hit anytime of the day, at a bar, a crowded café, or a favorite restaurant. While the citizens of New York cower in their homes, Dallas and her task force needs to work fast to locate and shut down those responsible before they strike again or before Homeland Security comes in and takes matters into their own hands. 

There is no question that as long as the cases and life of Eve Dallas and crew continue to intrigue and excite, we will continue to read and enjoy the stories of NYPSD’s top cop.


Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
After Celebrity, which was a more 'lighthearted' read, we're due for a darker story, I guess. I can't wait!
2. MaryC
Love reading and listening to the In Death series,
Lana Baker
3. lanalucy
I have loved these since the very first one I picked up, which was naturally (according to Murphy's Law) not the first book in the series. It's on my To Do list to go back to the beginning and read them all, in order.
4. Rose In RoseBear
This one sounds like it has a hard-core sf theme ... haven't had one of those since Fantasy In Death.

@lanalucy: I reread them all (except for the stupid double book --- hated that one) before New York To Dallas. VERY worthwile endeavor! It's nice to see the characters grow and change.
Carmen Pinzon
5. bungluna
@Rose - I try to re-read a few before each new one comes out. It's illuminating to see where the series has been before catching up to where it's at now.
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