Sunday Book Club: Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

As I mentioned in a previous Sunday Book Club post, I’m really sick of JD Robb’s (which is the pen name of Nora Roberts) “In Death” books but yet it is something that I could never keep away from. It’s an illness, I swear. 40-plus books on, with practically the exact same style of writing and similar plots, and I’m still reading every single one of them. I’m crazy.

Apprentice in Death is the latest book – 43rd in the “In Death” series. As this was just recently published, this costs US$14.99 on Kindle. I think it’s ridiculously overpriced, especially given the writing quality and how it is a part of a long series, so I just borrowed this from a friend at no cost. I really don’t want to spend more money on these.

**This part of the review may consist of Spoilers

Once again, I’ll skip some introductions, because if you’ve read even one book then it will be a repetition. In this book, New York City is terrorized by long-distance serial killers – a sniper killing with a tactical laser rifle. At first, it appears that the attacks were random – three people died at the Central Park ice skating rink with no apparent relations.

To make things worse, the killer could have been miles away in endless possible locations when the trigger was pulled. However, the number of people with the skill to pull off such a stint is limited and has to be either police, military or professional killers. Eve Dallas, the main character of the book and NYPD homicide lieutenant, soon realises that it was a team of two – one older and another a much younger apprentice.

Time is of the essence because the killers are likely to strike again, and it could be anywhere. So with Roarke’s (Eve’s husband) seemingly magical computer skills, he writes a program that triangulates the likely places that the killers could have killed from – nevermind the fact that he has to run a multi-gazillion empire when he is not helping out his wife.

Just like the last book, Eve called on the same team of people – her sidekick Peabody, the e-team McNab and Feeney, and her reporter friend Nadine – to help her solve this case. The two killers are actually a father and daughter pair – a heart broken Mackie, who lost his wife and unborn child in a car accident so he is out to kill everyone involved while every one else hit is just collateral damage to him, and 15-year-old Willow, who is a psychopathic killer and actually the true instigator for the killings.

Final Thoughts

As usual, the plot was rather predictable. I’m no longer excited or surprised by the plot; I’m pretty certain that these books are written by ghostwriters who follow a specific formula without any creative input, so every book appears to be exactly the same – even the banter between characters, things they fight about, and words they say to each other. I feel like they just opened the previous books and copied sections of it, then slightly rewrite it.

The timeline in the whole series is also screwed up – 43 books later, Eve and Roarke are only married for 2 years. The author is obviously slowing down the timeline so that the characters age a lot slower, which means that they can drag out the series for much longer.

I think JD Robb, or Nora Roberts, need to either 1) add in some fresh outlook and story plot in the series or 2) stop milking this series already and give it a good ending. Of course, I’m just a small voice in a sea of other people who still likes it so while the series is still making lots of money for the writer, I doubt that anything will change.

I’m still stuck with my emotional need to complete reading the series, but if you’re not like me and looking to pick this up for the first time, don’t. It’s not well written, the ending is really predictable, and is very far down the list of good detective or suspense books.

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