Book 17 in the In Death series, published in August 2002.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, comes a shocking new novel in the futuristic series... A frightening new computer virus is spreading and it knows no boundaries...
Louie Cogburn had spent three days holed up in his apartment, staring at his computer screen. His pounding headache was unbearable-like spikes drilling into his brain. And it was getting worse. Finally, when someone knocked at his door, Louie picked up a baseball bat, opened the door, and started swinging...
The first cop on the scene fired his stunner twice and Louie died instantly. Detective Eve Dallas has taken over the investigation, but there's nothing to explain the man's sudden rage or death. The only clue is a bizarre message left on his computer screen: Absolute Purity Achieved.
And when a second man dies under nearly identical circumstances, Dallas starts racking her brain for answers and for courage to face the impossible...that this might be a computer virus able to spread from machine to man...
New York in summer 2059 is hot and sweltering, violence is abundant. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is dragging her feet at Cop Central, as she should be going home to dress up and join Roarke in an important, and very boring, business meeting. Then she is saved by the bell. Officer Truehart calls her, upset and claiming he has killed a man. She calms him down a bit to get his report, orders him to call it in through Dispatch, and secure the scene, she is on her way.
What she finds is a small time illegals dealer, normally a quiet man and orderly man, who was bashing away on his neighbours with a baseball bat. Blood streaming out of his nose and ears. The man attacked Truehart, who had no choice but to stun him. And apparently this killed him.
But the autopsy reveals some strange things in the man’s brain. Then a young EDD cop, tasked with the job of taking Cogburn’s computer apart, gets ill. Irritated, angry, a major headache, nose bleeds, and he starts attacking his fellow officers. He shoots McNab, and takes Captain Feeney hostage. Eve and Peabody, who just arrived at EDD to get some answers, step in at once. Peabody ofcourse takes care of McNab, but Eve has to defuse the hostage situation. She knows he is not responsible for his actions, that he is sick like Cogburn was, and he is still a cop. She doesn’t want to kill him, but she might not have a choice. Roarke is witnessing when she steps inside the room with Feeney and the crazy cop, offering herself as a second hostage, while the sharpshooters are getting into place, and his heart almost stops beating. He knows she puts herself on the line every day, but to actually witness the danger, is killing him. But it is who she is, and he can’t and won’t change that.
A cop dies, from a computer virus. Is that even possible? Feeney and Roarke think not, but the evidence says otherwise. So they assemble a team to find out. Young Jamie is pulled in, he is young but quite brilliant. Roarke still thinks it a shame the boy is determined to become a cop, he could make millions of that mind of his. The difficulty is getting the answers, and not getting infected themselves.
The next victim is found, again someone who prayed on children, and never got convicted. Eve senses a common ground, and pounces on it. Who are behind this group called Purity, self proclaimed guardians of the innocent? They have to have superior e-skills, but also medical knowledge, and lots of money to back them up. The link is hidden behind sealed records, but Eve keeps digging anyway. She soon suspects a Child Services worker, a cop, and the family of some of the victims. But she is blocked in every way, and the body count is rising.
So, racing against the clock, she has to find the evidence to cut the red tape, and she will find it goes into the highest echelons. To her disgruntlement, the battle is also fought in the media. With the terrorist group, as she calls those vigilantes, proclaiming their good will, and Nadine gets tagged as media liaison. Eve hates it, hates being taken away from the job to talk to the press, to defend herself and her investigation, and to be forced to use only the statements approved by the mayor and his staff. She butts head with the deputy mayor, the media liaison, and her own commander. But when necessary, her commander and the chief are square behind her and the investigation. Politics be damned.
In the end, the breaks come, and they can wrap up the group. But have they really caught them all?
What a great book! It has to be the second time I have read this one, but I guess it was one of the first, as I didn’t really remember it. A great plot, a surprising and very satisfying ending.
In this book, McNab and Peabody get injured on the job, but Eve manages to get only a minor scrape. Of course she feels guilty for having her people get injured. Baxter takes Truehart under his wing, and he gets to be in on the bust and the planning. And Mavis is pregnant! And totally floating on love and happiness about it. Of course Eve is terrified, what does she know about pregnant woman and what they do? There are ofcourse some hot love scenes between Roarke and Eve, but they are also on opposite ends about important issues: is it really so bad when scum gets killed? Roarke just cannot be sorry about that, but Eve sees it different. Where is this vigilante stuff going to end? It will escalate, it always does, how good the intentions may be. People get used to the power, to killing from a save distance. Who are they to judge others? And where will they draw the line?