For Lt. Eve Dallas' 46th case, Robb resurrects the plot of the old copycat horror movie Theater of Blood, but instead of having a murderer imitate Shakespearean crimes, she uses scenes written by a 2061 mystery novelist.
What’s scarier than a screening of Psycho? The murder of an audience member in the middle of the iconic shower scene, that’s what. The victim is actress Chanel Rylan, whose roommate and companion, veterinarian Lola Kawaski, swears that she didn’t have an enemy in the world. But the meticulous planning of the killer, who lured Lola away from her seat with a bogus emergency phone call moments before plunging an icepick into Chanel’s back, makes it clear that this was no random act of violence. Eve and her sidekick, Detective Amelia Peabody, have barely started to question the obvious witnesses when “really famous novelist” Blaine DeLano comes to the station to confess that one of her thrillers provided a detailed blueprint for the murder—and indeed for the killing of Rosie Kent, who was strangled a month ago in a scenario clearly borrowed from another of Blaine’s bestselling novels. Once Eve and Peabody have satisfied themselves that the murderer is indeed cribbing from Blaine, they take the logical next step: scouring the rest of her oeuvre for the fictional victims most likely to be replicated by the real-life killer, identifying the New Yorkers who match their profiles most closely, and warning them to watch their backs. Their efforts aren’t enough to prevent a third murder. But by the time they finally make an arrest, Eve—who’d rather be spending the time celebrating the winter vacation of her megabucks husband Roarke’s majordomo, Summerset, by making love in every possible new location in their mansion—has collected so much evidence that her climactic interrogation of the perp, normally a high point in this series (Secrets in Death, 2017, etc.), is merely a formality.
It’s interesting to see Robb’s evergreen heroine trying to prevent murders in addition to investigating them, even if her indifferent success makes her efforts less than inspiring.