Another visit with Eve Dallas, Roarke

By: 
Jan Jones
Columnist

Decided to read J.D. Robb’s “Payback in Death” during our drive to Sioux Narrows. As expected, it held my interest all the way.

Lt. Eve Dallas and her super-rich husband Roarke have been on a much-needed vacation. A lazy two weeks in Greece, followed by a chaotic week with Roarke’s family in Ireland, did the trick. Both Eve and Roarke were loners until they rediscovered Roarke’s family.

As much as they enjoy country life, they are happy to return to the hustle and bustle of New York. Almost immediately, Eve gets a call from a detective in Internal Affairs.

Detective Webster is calling to report he has found his former boss, retired AID Captain Greenleaf, dead. It looks like a suicide, but Webster is positive Greenleaf would never do such a thing. He wants NYPD’s best murder cop, Lt. Eve Dallas, to confirm his suspicions.

Webster explains that he and Greenleaf were remarkably close and he is considered part of their family. This had been Beth Greenleaf’s girls’ night out. Consequently, Captain Greenleaf had invited Webster to watch the baseball game. When Greenleaf didn’t answer the door, Webster let himself in and found his friend slumped at his desk in front of a strange suicide note on the computer screen.

Dallas agrees that the scene appears staged and has just begun investigating when Mrs. Greenleaf and her neighbor Elva Arnez arrive. Beth readily admits that her husband’s job in IAD made him unpopular with other cops. He maintained a hard line on all his investigations and expected all cops to remain squeaky clean.

While many disgraced cops swore vengeance, nothing had occurred in the nine years he’d been retired. So why kill Greenleaf now, in this way and how?

The Greenleaf apartment had excellent security. The place is on the second floor, has entry and exit cameras, plus security shades yet Eve finds that one of the bedroom windows is unlocked. Beth swears she would never leave a window unlocked. Dallas is sure that someone unlocked that window allowing the killer to slip in and stage the suicide.

While her team assembles and searches a list of all the people Greenleaf has sent to prison on-planet, Dallas concentrates on any relatives of the deceased cops who might want revenge.

While Dallas wants to focus solely on the case, she now understands the importance of family and a life outside of work. So, she and Roarke make time to visit the huge home their friends Mavis and Leonardo, Detective Delia Peabody and her lover McNabb are redoing. As they watch the progress, Eve gets a deeper sense of what motivates her friends.

Little by little, her team combs through the lengthy list of people Captain Greenleaf and the IAD investigated and/or convicted. As names are eliminated, Dallas can’t help returning to her gut feeling. Something feels off about Greenleaf’s young upstairs neighbors, Elva Arnez and her cohab Denzel Robards.

Since Elva had joined Beth in selecting an outfit that night, she could have easily unlocked the window, giving Denzel access to the apartment and the unsuspecting Captain Greenleaf. What she needs to know is why.

They get a break when someone tries to kill the captain’s son, Ben Greenleaf, during a post-funeral reception at his sister’s home. Ben was lured to an upstairs room, hit with a trophy and hoisted to a prepared noose. Amazingly, he is found before it is too late.

The process of elimination and security footage helps Dallas conclude that it had to have been Arnez and Robards. A search of their apartment reveals a stash connecting Elva Arnez to a disgraced cop named Louis Noy. After his conviction, Noy committed suicide, and Greenleaf’s death was a mirror of Noy’s. The attempt on Ben’s life would have mirrored Brice Noy’s death.

Once in interrogation, it doesn’t take Dallas long to break the defiant Arnez. The woman had once been very close to Brice Noy and his father Louis. She still believes that Louis Noy was wrongly convicted and has letters indicating that Brice hanged himself because the conviction had ruined his chances of becoming a cop. The ambitious young woman was devastated and swore to make the Greenleaf family pay by mirroring the deaths of the men she loved and admired, Louis and Brice Noy.

Authors like JD Robb help us see all sides of a situation, issue and crime and it makes the characters seem more real. Your public library has many such books available. Why not drop by and check it out?

AT A GLANCE

Book: “Payback in Death” (Eve Dallas, Book 57)

Author: J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Year published: 2023

Number of pages: 368