J. D. Robb, Author writing as J.D. Robb. Putnam $23.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-15208-5

In the 20th fine volume of Roberts's futuristic mystery franchise, police lieutenant Eve Dallas is called in when lawyer Grant Swisher and his family are massacred with eerie skillfulness on the Upper West Side. The only survivor is 10-year-old Nixie, who evades—and witnesses—the killers as she creeps down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. Despite the painful memories of her own childhood that Nixie's presence calls up, Eve decides to hide the girl in the high-tech mansion she shares with her husband, billionaire businessman Roarke. With help from Roarke; her faithful sidekick, Peabody; and others, Eve discovers the existence of a shadowy former military operative with a grudge against Swisher—the lawyer helped the operative's battered wife divorce him right before she disappeared. The relatively early disclosure of the villain's identity and the dearth of other viable suspects dulls the suspense in the first half of the book, but tension escalates toward an absorbing denouement as a trap Eve sets for her target ends up with Nixie as its unintentional bait. Throughout, the series' colorful supporting cast and Eve's prickly personality—smartly showcased in her power struggles with everything from space-age vending machines to her own past—remain as vividly appealing as ever. Agent, Amy Berkower. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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