Could real-life high-tech be catching up with Robb’s future-crime scenarios? There’s barely a single development in 2060 transportation, communications or research in this tale of dirty New York cops.
After cracking her first case as lead investigator, Det. Delia Peabody overhears a locker-room conversation that spells big trouble. It isn’t just that Lt. Renee Oberman and Det. William Garnet are on the take; Oberman, whose saintly retired father, Commander Marcus Oberman, gives her a powerful shield against accusations, has organized her whole Illegal Substances unit as a power base and cash cow. Peabody reports this intelligence to her training partner, Lt. Eve Dallas (Indulgence in Death, 2010, etc.), who brings it in turn to her boss, Commander Jack Whitney, who vows a full-court press against Illegals. For such a powerfully corrupt unit, though, Illegals turns out to be remarkably toothless. Every attempt Eve makes to unearth new information bears fruit, and every move she makes weakens Illegals further. Oberman doesn’t protect his daughter, who never suspects Peabody, and whose minions fail to kill a key witness. There’s conflict aplenty, but no obstacles, no setbacks, no complications—nary a doubt what’s going to happen next, or ever. The deepest pleasure to be had from this tale of justice triumphant is the repeated, satisfying smirks that will cross your face every time the self-righteous heroine baits the villain.
The futuristic technology isn’t the only thing that’s stalled in this 32nd installment of Robb’s venerable series.