Book 15 in the In Death series, published in September 2001.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is searching for a Casanova killer with a deadly appetite for seduction …
Dante had been courting his victim in cyberspace for weeks before meeting her in person. A few sips of wine and a few hours later, she was dead. The murder weapon: a rare, usually undetectable date-rape drug with a street value of a quarter of a million dollars.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is playing and replaying the clues in her mind. The candlelight, the music, the rose petals strewn across the bed – a scene set for seduction that’s gone horribly wrong. He hadn’t intended to kill her. But now that he has, he is left with only two choices: to either hole up in fear and guilt. Or start hunting again …
Doctor Louise Dimatto has just come home early from a boring date, when she is almost hit by a dead body falling from the sky. A naked woman splashes on the sidewalk next to her. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called in as primary to investigate, and she quickly rules out suicide. This woman was already dead when she fell (or was tossed?).
Visiting the apartment she sees al the signs of a seduction: two wineglasses, soft light, romantic music, a bed strewn with rose petals ... So what went wrong? But she is convident she will find her suspect soon, after all, she has his fingerprints, his DNA and his face captured on the security camera’s. He did nothing to disguise himself. Or did he?
A@ had been chatting online with Dante for a few weeks now, and was very excited to finally meet him in person. Of course she would never sleep with him on the first date, according to her best friend. So why did she? Then the tox report comes in, and they found A@ with two very expensive and rare dating raping drugs in her system. Lieutenant Eve Dallas has enough leads to follow: the expensive wine, the facial enhancements and wig the murderer wore (he was disguised after all), and the drugs. The wine leads her to Roarke, her husband, who owns the vineyard. For the drugs, she asks Charles Monroe for his professional experience as an LC, and if one of his customers ever used it. Louise Dimatto also wants to be kept in the loop, and has never come across those specific drugs.
When Charles and Louise meet each other at Eve’s place, there is an instant connection between them. Louise doesn’t care that Charles is a licensed companion, though she warns him she has not much time for a relationship. McNab is incensed on Peabody’s behalf. Okay, they broke up, but that is no reason for Charles to behave like that right in front of her! Ofcourse, he still doesn’t know Peabody and Charles are just friends, nothing more.
Then a second body is discovered, with virtually the same MO. Only much more brutal, much more violent. This woman is covered in bruises. So to Eve, something is off. Are there really two murderers on the loose? Playing a game, a contest? This murderer left nothing behind of himself, no fingerprints, no DNA. The disguise on camera is slightly different from the first murderer, but she cannot be sure yet.
The drugs lead her to a scientific experiment a few decades ago, when a company was researching drugs to cure sexual problems. They did find some great medicine, but those specific drugs were abandoned quickly after some major problems with it. It was unstable, and the personnel was taking it home for personal use, and there were also some complaints of rape. One drop of the stuf is enough to make a woman do everything that is desired of her, taking away her choice and free will. Still, Eve is digging deeper and deeper, why are those files sealed? Of course, having a husband like hers, those seals mean not so much ...
The third woman is lucky: she doesn’t die, she manages to call 911 after the killer leaves her for dead, and get to the hospital in time. When she finally wakes up out of her coma, she can tell Eve valuable data. The net is closing in on the murderers. One of them is brilliant with computers, even Roarke is impressed, the other one is the scientist, the chemist brewing the drugs. But will it be in time to save the next woman?
I loved this book, again. It still is one of the best series I have ever read, and I will keep doing that for as long as possible. Eve and Roarke are great together. As usual, having a sexual crime on her hands make the nightmares about her father come back more and more dreadful. Ofcourse Mavis and Trina make an appearance in this book, and Peabody and McNab are getting back together, after McNab fights with Charles over her.