Fantasy in Death (In Death Series)
by J. D. Robb
Read by Susan Ericksen
Produced 2010 by Brilliance Audio
approx 12 Hours

I love a good mystery and I love sci-fi, when I first started reading these “…in Death” books by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) I knew I was gonna be hooked.  Here it is the 30th book in the series and I haven’t given up yet.  I will admit in the earlier books I was almost ready to stop reading this series because of the nearly softcore porn sections.  But Robb/Roberts has toned it down some and the skip feature on my iPod is ready for use, for this book I only had to skip ahead for about 10 minutes, in the earlier books I would have had to skip at least 30 minutes worth of the book to get back to the story.  Yeah, I know Roberts is a romance writer first, but the sex scenes just don’t fit in with these stories.  She writes great mysteries, and throws in enough sci-fi (the books are set around the years 2050 – 2060) to keep them fun.  Skipping over the sex scenes does not lose anything to do with the story.  If only she would cut them out completely, they are completely uncalled for and do not add to the story in any way.

Okay, that being said let’s talk about this book.  This book should offer up a bit of fun for the cyber-geek, mystery fan and general sci-fi fan alike.  Like I said with the stories in this series set in the near future, Robb/Roberts adds just enough tech stuff to enhance the stories.  Here’s a small example, flying cars, offworld prisons, offworld resorts & casinos, wrist unit communications (video & audio), serious computer hacking, laser type stunners and blasters,  holodecks for gaming & fun and more.   This story dives head first into future gaming via VR  and holodecks.  Bart Minnock is one of the founders of U-Play, a gaming corporation, he and his 3 partners have created a fairly successful gaming company and they are on the verge of releasing the latest in greatest in gaming.  This new game will be the ultimate in gaming, allowing the user to create and control virtually every aspect of the game.  Bart gets home from work and goes into the holoroom to test out the latest version of the game in preparation for the game, “Fantastical,” release.  The next day he is found decapitated in his holo room and that’s where NYPSD homicide detective Lt. Eve Dallas comes in.  She fights for the dead.

When Lt. Dallas and her team of detectives begin looking into the case they can find no reason why Minnock would be murdered, let alone decapitated.  He was a genius, likable and friendly.  His company was run by him and 3 other friends who all met in college and put together the gaming braintrust that is U-Play.  The partners all have equal parts in the biz.  The only thing Eve can figure out is that it is jealousy, but at first go round everyone has nothing but respect for Minnock.  As she digs deeper she realizes that one of the partners is the murderer, but how?  The security records and videos all show Bart was alone until his body was discovered by his girlfriend and servant droid the next day.

So how does a murderer get into a secure building with extra security on the locked holoroom?  Dallas searches for the possible murder weapon, a sword that can send electrical jolts.  When this hits a dead end she then locks on to an idea that at first, seems to break the laws of physics.  When she begins looking harder at the remaining three partners in the company another is murdered.  This time Dallas has her suspect but the problem is to prove how the crime was committed.  Non-stop action, mystery and suspense.

Robb/Roberts has had 30 books and numerous short stories to develop the characters in this series and from book one every single one of the characters are full of depth.  Each one has a history and life goals and Robb/Roberts brings these to each character creating full four dimensional characters that the reader/listener can fully relate to and actually want to know. From Lt. Dallas all the way down to McNabb the Electronics division detective they are all fully formed and a critical part of every story, including this one.

The reader, Susan Ericksen, brings these characters to life by highlighting each characters depth with each one having their own voice.  Ericksen vocally manipulates each character’s voice to where these books sound as though they are a multi-cast performance.  Ericksen is supremely talented in voice work and she brings it all to the table when voicing this series.

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