Friday, May 17, 2024

Review - - Random in Death

Random in Death
by J.D. Robb
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 23, 2024
Reviewed by Nancy

Jenna’s parents had finally given in, and there she was, at a New York club with her best friends, watching the legendary band Avenue A, carrying her demo in hopes of slipping it to the guitarist, Jake Kincade. Then, from the stage, Jake catches her eye, and smiles. It’s the best night of her life.

It’s the last night of her life.

Minutes later, Jake’s in the alley getting some fresh air, and the girl from the dance floor comes stumbling out, sick and confused and deathly pale. He tries to help, but it’s no use. He doesn’t know that someone in the crowd has jabbed her with a needle—and when his girlfriend Nadine arrives, she knows the only thing left to do for the girl is call her friend, Lieutenant Eve Dallas.

After everyone on the scene is interviewed, lab results show a toxic mix of substances in the victim’s body—and for an extra touch of viciousness, the needle was teeming with infectious agents. Dallas searches for a pattern: Had any boys been harassing Jenna? Was she engaging in risky behavior or caught up in something shady? But there are no obvious clues why this levelheaded sixteen-year-old, passionate about her music, would be targeted.

And that worries Dallas. Because if Jenna wasn’t targeted, if she was just the random, unlucky victim of a madman consumed by hatred, there are likely more deaths to come.

Nancy’s Thoughts:

Few series reach fifty-eight books. Most run out of steam well before then, and the last few often seem pale retreads of the earlier ones. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with Random in Death. The plot is tight and twisty, and we learn new things about familiar characters.

As you can see from the blurb, Eve Dallas’s friend Nadine Furst and her lover, Jake Kincaid, play prominent roles in this story. Regular readers have often seen Nadine step to the fore, but this is the first extended look at Jake and at the two of them as a couple. Jake may be astoundingly famous, but he’s a decent guy, the kind fans would hope Nadine would fall for. He and Avenue A offer their help at every step of the investigation. At the end, they offer something priceless, which I won’t spoil, to Jenna’s family. 

The murder appears to be random, with Jenna crossing the killer’s path at the wrong time. But is it? Aware that a random killing is among the hardest to solve, Eve and her team search doggedly for an explanation of why Jenna and why now. Before they find the answers, the killer makes a mistake that gives them a lead.

Many of the elements of the story are standard police procedural components. Where did the murder weapon come from? Who had access to the components? Did the killer know the victims? If not, did they fit a type? What keeps the story in Random in Death fresh is the array of characters. Robb gives each victim a family different from the others, uniting them grief or anger for their daughters.

Along the way, other familiar characters play their roles. We learn what Jamie Lingstrom is doing. He’s a tech genius who wants, much to Roarke’s frustration, to become a cop rather than work in the much more lucrative private sector for Roarke or someone like him. Jamie teams up with Quilla, a clever, independent teenager who first appears in Concealed in Death. They play an important role in the investigation.

There are also updates on the joint building project of Peabody and McNabb and on Mavis and her family. Dr. Louise DiMatto and former licensed companion Charles Monroe contribute to the hunt, as do Dr. Charlotte Mira, Eve’s homicide cops, and the forensics team at Cop Central. We see these characters frequently, the scenes with Nadine and Jake offer a new, interesting element. Nadine has had relationships before, but this one seems different. And, of course, there’s Roarke, who has evolved in the series into Eve’s very effective partner in crimefighting as well as in life. Overall, though, I think the continuing appeal of this series is Robb’s ability to keep the plot fresh without letting it get scattered and to add a bit here and there to the characters readers already know and like.

Random in Death can stand alone, but readers who start with this book will miss Eve’s evolution from a loner to someone with an extensive found family and the gradual growth of her relationship with Roarke that eventually forged them into a unit. Given the tight plot, great pace, and beautiful character bits, I rate this book as five stars, highly recommended.



  1. I love this series and await each new one - also do re-reads.

  2. Thank you for the review and recommendation. I have been looking at these books for years and never started the series. It is so hard for me to keep up with even shorter series plus other books. This does sound good and I might try to get to it.