Sunday, October 30, 2022

Desperation in Death (In Death #55), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250859250, September 2022

It's 2061, and there are young girls trapped in a hellish "Academy" in New York City, where they are being trained to be slaves--some of them, sex slaves. Among them are Mina, a beautiful girl with white skin and red hair, and Dorian, an equally beautiful mixed-race girl with darker, clear, perfect skin, and sharper features. They become allies in an attempt to get out--which is almost successful. Almost. Soon Mina is dead, and Dorian is injured, in hiding, and has a very hazy memory of what happened. When Mina's body is found, Lt. Eve Dallas catches the case, and soon realizes she's dealing with something very dark.

Dallas and Peabody start using every detail of Mina's clothing and appearance both to identify her, and to figure out where she'd been most recently, and who killed her. The signs are very strange indeed. Her pants are good quality but fairly ordinary private school uniform pants. Her blouse equally ordinary to initial appearance, but of high-quality cloth and individually tailored to her. 

Her underwear is also clearly expensive--and very, very sexy, not what most thirteen-year-olds could afford, or would even want. 

None of these expensive items have labels.

It's looking very much like someone was grooming her, in the nasty sense of "grooming."

Roarke can't help recognizing the potential similarities to what happened to Eve, and how it is putting extra stress on her. Trying to protect Lt. Dallas, though, goes as well as it ever does, and she feels, precisely because of the similarities, absolutely obligated to solve this one and rescue any other girls who may be at risk. 

And as they realize there was another girl with Mina, and identify her from her blood on Mina's pants, they start to find a few cracks in the case, indications of something sophisticated, monstrously evil, and much, much larger than they could have suspected.

Dorian, in the meantime, has by luck found a place to hide, that might even be safe, and her memory begins to come back.

We also get some glimpses of the perpetrators, both what they're doing, and what, beyond the obvious, they are like.

Dallas, Peabody, Dallas's "bullpen" of detectives and uniformed officers, Dr. Mira, forensics tech Berenski, Medical Examiner Morris, ADA Reo, Mavis, and Summerset  as well as others make their appearances, and even those normally combative toward Dallas are this time solidly behind her because of the nature of the case. It's a case that also forces Dallas to confront her past in a different way, as she discovers that even not having nightmares anymore isn't quite enough and there's more progress to make in her healing.

There's some hard scenes in this one, but we also both girls and women showing great personal strength in terrifying circumstances, and all kinds of people, male and female,
young and old, showing fundamental decency when it counts.

Yes, there are the evil scum, too, but there wouldn't be a story without them.

It's another very good entry in the In Death series. Very enjoyable.

I bought this audiobook.

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