Lt. Eve Dallas takes on child trafficker

When I saw J.D. Robb’s “Desperation in Death” in InfoSoup, I had to check it out. This ongoing story features New York City Police Lt. Eve Dallas and her team of dedicated officers. It is 2061 but age-old heinous crimes continue. The worst is human trafficking.

Mina Cabot and Dorian Gregg couldn’t be more different. Mina is a much-loved child of privilege, while Dorian is an unloved and abused child forced onto the streets at age 12. Their common denominator is stunning good looks. They, and many others, have been snatched from the street and taken to The Academy to be trained, groomed and sold.

When Mina hatches a plan to escape, Dorian reluctantly agrees. All goes well until Dorian sprains her ankle. Mina decides to lead the guards away and makes a run for it. Minutes later, as she hides, Dorian hears a blood-curdling scream. All she can do is hide and wait, praying that Mina got away.

The next morning, Dorian manages to hobble away from her hiding place and into the basement of an abandoned building. She is found by a boy who calls himself Mouser. He helps her to a safe place run by an older man named Sebastian.

Sebastian has a long history with the NYPD and keeps a low profile while taking in “stray” children. In exchange for a safe house, food and medical care, the children commit petty crimes and cons to bring money to run his “group home.” Knowing that he does some good, the police pretty much leave them alone. For the first time, Dorian feels safe and cared for.

As Dorian adjusts to her new freedom, Lt. Dallas is struggling to find Mina Cabot’s killer. She was found impaled on the piece of wood she tried to use as a weapon. She is wearing a tailor-made white shirt, too-small uniform pants and extremely expensive “sex underwear.”

As a runaway, Dorian is in the system, and drops of her blood on Mina tell them she was not alone but nothing else. Dallas is convinced that Dorian is alive and hiding from both her captors and the police.

As Dallas concentrates on human trafficking and kiddie porn, she is appalled at the number of children who have disappeared without a trace. With extra help from Roarke, her team peels back the layers hiding a vast network of perverted businesses.

When Sebastian finally convinces Dorian to speak with Dallas, the pieces begin to come together. “Auntie” Iris Swan runs the Academy. She and a cadre of corrupt and sadistic employees snatch attractive children, train them, then sell them for millions of dollars. Sickened and angry, the team doubles down on finding the Academy, Swan and any potential buyers before a planned auction can take place.

The carefully orchestrated take down goes smoothly, but the follow-up at cop central puts icing on the cake. Many low-level workers are eager to cut deals implicating Iris Swan, but the woman smugly signs a deal expecting minimal punishment. Dallas and her team can’t help laughing when Swan discovers that the deal only covers crimes in NYC. As Swan rages and threatens, she is arrested for multiple federal crimes, ensuring she’ll spend decades in a cage.

As the exhausted team heads for home, Eve impulsively invites everyone to a barbecue at her home on Sunday. Does this signal a crack in her personal armor or is she just overtired?


Book: Desperation in Death (Lt. Eve Dallas, Book 55)

Author: J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Year published: 2022

Number of pages: 368