Friday, February 25, 2011

Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

When Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody are called to the scene of the death of an old man killed by three neighborhood punks, Eve makes Peabody the primary and responsible for finding the kids who killed him. This doesn't actually take all that long, since Eve trained Peabody very well, and when Peabody puts them away, she gets a solid confession out of them. But to do so, she goes into a confrontation with the kids and gets knocked around a bit. Eve commends Peabody but suggests she work out a bit more.

So after she files her report on the case, that's exactly what Peabody does. Only the new gym in the precinct is too full of buff and muscled cops, and she doesn't want to feel embarrassed by her old workout clothes and (to her) flabby body. So instead, she hauls herself down to the old gym that no one uses any more because it's ugly and the showers barely work. After an hour of working out hard, she can barely move and drags herself into the showers, going to the only one that has soap in it. After her shower, she's drying off when she hears someone enter. Two someones, arguing.

She goes back to the shower stall, because what she can hear of the talk is that the two cops are talking about something illegal and probably crooked. She cowers in the back of the stall, understanding that if she is caught, she is dead. And when the two cops leave, she calls her lover, ED Detective McNab, and he picks her up and takes her to see Eve after she tells him what she overheard. A woman, Renee Oberman, and a male detective named Garnett talking about planting evidence to make a man that has been killed, a snitch named Juicy, is taken for an OD rather than a murder, and that the ten grand he took off with, along with the drugs, are retrieved.

Oberman also tells Garland that he is forfeiting his share of the money because of his incompetence, which doesn't sit well with him. Peabody saw her face, but not the man's, and Eve, her husband Roarke, Peabody and McNab go out to find Juicy's body after using Roarke to fake a call from a supposed informant about Juicy's death which gives her call to investigate. They determine several locations where he might have gone to ground, and pair off to find the body, which they do. Once they determine that Oberman and Garland were really talking about the murdered man, Eve decides then and there that Oberman has pissed her off and must be taken down for the good of the department.

Oberman is the daughter of a man that the entire department calls "Saint Oberman", and she was raised with everything that Eve didn't have growing up. And despite being the daughter of a cop known for his rectitude and sense of justice, she has spat on everything her father stood for by becoming a crooked cop, one who works in illegals but apparently skims off some of the drugs that her officers find at busts and sells them herself, becoming rich in the process.

As soon as she can, Eve brings her Captain, Whitney, in on the case, and Whitney orders her to bring in IAB to help run the investigation.Eve doesn't like the idea, but she brings in Webster, an IAB who once wanted to be romantically involved with her, along with McNab, his boss and Eve's former tutor and partner Feeney and Dr, Mira, the psychologist who Eve goes to see for help with her cases.

From Mira, she learns that Oberman has suborned one of the Doctors in her office, who has been cooking the records of Renee and the cops that work for her, cleaning up their psych evaluations so that they pass muster at all their annual evaluations. Mira feels personally betrayed that someone in her office could do such a thing, and it probably helped that the Doctor was a man as Renee Oberman feels much more comfortable around men, manipulating them and using them with her sexuality.

But she isn't anywhere near as good a cop as Eve is, and while many of those in her department are male, she has always had a problem with the women. So when Eve goes to rattle Oberman's cage about the death of Juicy the Confidential Informant, she notices that one of the cops, Lilah Strong, doesn't seem to be too thrilled with her boss. But is that because she isn't on Oberman's side, or just female jealousy?

Eve, who doesn't think Renee Oberman deserves the title of Lieutenant, or even of "cop", takes great pleasure in pushing Oberman and her subordinates, giving her a lot to worry about, of Eve cottoning on to her little scam business and bringing it all down. She pushes until Garland snaps and tries to hit her, whereupon she writes him up for a 30-day suspension.

Renee thinks Eve has gone too far and tries to go to bat for Garland, but Eve won't relent, and soon Garland comes to her home and attacks her verbally and then physically once more. Eve lets her hit him once, and when he tries it again, she takes him down quite brutally. Garland goes for his piece and she knocks it from his hand. Everything has been caught on video recorder, and Garland knows this means losing his job.

But when he goes to Oberman and tells her she has to take care of Eve NOW, she realizes that Garland is the bigger problem and has his partner, Bix, an ex-soldier, take Garland out under the guise of Garland killing Eve. But now that Eve has caused her so many problems, Oberman is determined to bring Eve down, and all her allies among Oberman's squad. But can Eve protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice while remaining alive herself?

I liked this book, which gave us something we've never had before: a dirty cop who was at the same level as Eve. and who'd had all the advantages Eve didn't when she was growing up, and who had chosen to game the system and set up a corrupt organization inside the police force. Not only is Renee Oberman the exact opposite of Eve, more or less, she is also the thing that Eve most hates: a corrupt cop.

Not only is Oberman the Anti-Eve, but the rest of her squad is like their own anti-versions of Eve's partner and teammates. Bix is like Anti-Peabody (he's unfailingly loyal, but mainly because he's a former soldier and he gives his loyalty to his commanding officer, and Peabody is loyal to Eve for all Eve has taught her). Garnet is like Anti-Roarke. He and Renee were lovers (and may still be occasionally, the book isn't clear on that point), but Renee uses him, controlling him through her sexuality, where Eve may be sexual, but she scarcely uses it as the weapon Oberman does, and she and Roarke are partners. Oberman even has a Dr. Mira-like analogue in a male staff Psychologist who works for Mira. But once again, Oberman controls him using her sexuality. While there are no direct analogues to McNab or Feeney, Oberman has control over people in property and several other departments.

The best part of the book is in watching Eve get angry, yet lead Renee Oberman in a dance that controls her and leads her from her current high position at the start of the book to a jail cell at the end. Eve despises her fellow Lieutenant, but controls her feelings well enough to lead the woman into damaging omissions and acts that end up bringing her to prison and disgrace. The way that Eve does this inspires wicked joy in the reader and kept my attention firmly on the book while I was reading it, to the point that I had trouble putting it down to sleep or eat.

I'd recommend this book most highly, and those who love the cast of characters that surround Eve will find themselves with lots to love in this book, from Peabody and McNab to Feeney, Mira, Summerset, Galahad the cat, Trueheart, and the return of Webster and another character from an earlier book fill the pages with tension and fun. Even though you start the main storyline knowing who the bad guy(s) is/are, the book is never less than suspenseful as Eve maneuvers her opponents in undoing all their schemes. Highly recommended!

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