Book 16 in the In Death series, published in march 2002.
At exactly 7.30 p.m. Walter Pettigrew arrived home to find more than a hundred friends and family shouting – “Surprise”-. It was his birthday. Although he had known about the planned event for weeks, the real surprise was yet to come. At 8.45 p.m. a woman with emerald eyes and red hair handed him a glass of champagne. One sip of birthday bubbly, and he was dead.
The woman’s name is Julie Dockport. No one at the party knew who she was. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas remembers her all too well. Eve was personally responsible for Julie’s incarceration nearly ten years ago. And now, let out on good behaviour, she still has nothing but bad intentions. It appears she wants to meet Dallas again, in a reunion neither will forget…
Julianna Dunne slid through the system. She is stone cold murderer, targeting rich older men. She marries them, then kills them. But she fooled the shrinks, the jury, the judge. Told them she was raped as a young girl by her stepfather. She couldn’t help herself taking revenge on men just like him. Sitting in the courtroom, demurely, blond and blue eyed and innocent, she got only 10 years. For killing three men, and getting very rich in the process. If it wasn’t for Detective Eve Dallas, she would still be out. A mere man never would be able to catch her, but a woman is a worthy adversary.
Julianna used her time in prison well. She kept herself in shape, and by charming or bribing the prison guards and the warden, she could pretty well do whatever she wanted. She kept her investments going, and researched Eve and her next victims. She just loves to kill men, and now she is rich enough not having to marry them first. She will pay Eve back for putting her in a cage for years, for denying her that rush. She will let her run around in circles, and in the end, will hurt her the most. Cause Eve Dallas has been foolish enough to fall in love with a man, and married him. So by killing her husband, she will crush Eve. Or so she thinks.
Eve and Roarke are back from a well deserved vacation, and Eve has nothing left on her desk to finish. Peabody took care of it all, and even had her office cleaned thoroughly and repainted. So Eve decides to take a look at some cold cases, to see of something leaps out at her. And she decides the Marsha Stibbs case is a good one for Peabody to investigate on her own. A young woman murdered in her own house while her husband is away on a business trip. His alibi holds, and everyone told the primary, they were happy together, and very much in love. But there were also love letters found from a mysterious C in her drawer, and not a clue was found to his identity. No one could believe she really did have a lover. Eve decides to do a follow up on the husband and his new wife, and smells something fishy. She tells Peabody to investigate again, and continue on her own time when they get a life case.
And with the distraction of her parents come to town, she will not have much time.
And they get the Pettibone case. No one believes he has any enemies, he was just a person loved by all. Made his fortune with flowers, flowershops, agriculture. He had divorced his first wife after over 30 years (and she happens to be a close friend with her superior’s wife!), but it all was very friendly, even when he married his second wife, Bambi. A very pretty and very stupid girl, younger than his daughter. But they were happy together. Eve recognises Julie Dockport as Julianna Dunne immediately. So why did she break pattern? Is she gone pro now? But they can find no motive, no trail of money, nothing.
Visiting the Dockport prison where Julianna stayed for the last 8plus years, they try to get the inmates to talking about her. And Eve does get some clues, but not enough the save the next victim. A highly respected lawyer gets killed in his own office by poisoned coffee. And Julianna smiles in the camera while she is at it.
Eve knows her killer, but she can get no angle. Julianna is obviously murdering for fun now, so how can she stop her, figure out who her next target will be? She must have some luxurious house apartment somewhere, she likes her amenities. Only the best clothes and stuff for Julianna. Even though the computer disagrees, she just knows she will go after Roarke next, though he is not her usual target group. After all, she stays in New York to best Eve, and what better way to do that, than to kill her husband? Eve wants to protect Roarke, but he will have nothing of the sort. He can take care of himself.
During the investigation in Julianna’s past, Eve has to go to Dallas to speak with the stepfather. She doesn’t believe the rape charges, as Julianna shows none of the signs of a victim, even though she gives all the right answers. And she will need to confront her personal demons there. It is the city where she was found as a nameless 8 year old girl, covered in blood and with a broken arm. Roarke will be with her every step of the way, and perhaps it is even rougher on him, to witness her memories and not be able to slay her dragons for her. The man is already dead.
I loved this story, it is really great. The interaction with all the known characters, but also the next step in her mind, her history. The suspense part is wonderful too, and it all ends with a huge catfight between Eve and Julianna.
Peabody’s parents are something else, and they add a nice touch to the storyline. They get to witness Peabody’s victory in interrogation, and are so very proud of their daughter.