Apprentice in Death - J.D. Robb

Forty-three books into the series (not counting the novellas, which I have read all but two), and I am still here for the gang from NYC circa 2061. Over the last ten books, some have kicked my reading ass in a good way (hello, Treachery in Death!), some have enraged me (Brotherhood in Death!), and some were just piss poor and didn't deserve to be in such a great series (looking at you Thankless in Death!). This book falls solidly into the great group of reading.

So why not 5 stars? Because it is another serial killer story line which Lt. Eve Dallas figures out the identities of the killers half-way through the book and chases them throughout NYC. It has been done already, several times. I prefer the intimate killings, the murders that are singular but have a dozen suspects who may legitimately had a beef with the dead. Apprentice in Death is a little of both; some of the victims were specifically targeted, others were random - while a nice twist, it still is another serial killer story.

However, the writing is intense and the characters seem to have come back to their senses and normal traits that made them special (making Brotherhood in Death's bizarre turn in characterization a mirage that hopefully won't happen again). We get the entire Homicide squad on the case for this one, plus Commander Whitney makes several appearances. Somerset's history in and skill set from the Urban Wars plays a part in the murder case; Somerset's relationship to both Roarke and Eve plays into the emotional under story that makes this series so damn good. Also, anytime the Urban Wars come into play I am a happy reader. Nadine Furst is an asset again, as well as Dr. Mira. Roarke decides to take a few days off from buying up the world to play e-geek with Feeney and McNab. Peabody is once again one-liner expert and professional detective again, without mentioning her weight for once. The killers are given a deep back story that unfolds a little at time but always made sense and added to the story. There are moments that harken back to previous books; most notably, the re-opening of Madison Square Garden after the bombing by terrorists in the Cassandra plot. Those little hints of storytelling is one of the reasons I love this series, even with some warts.