Innocent in Death (In Death Series #24)

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Overview

View our feature on J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series.

The phenomenal series set in a future New York City continues, as Lieutenant Eve Dallas hunts for the killer of a seemingly ordinary history teacher-and uncovers some extraordinary surprises.

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Innocent in Death (In Death Series #24)

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Overview

View our feature on J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series.

The phenomenal series set in a future New York City continues, as Lieutenant Eve Dallas hunts for the killer of a seemingly ordinary history teacher-and uncovers some extraordinary surprises.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this solid addition to J. D. Robb's (Nora Roberts) futuristic romantic suspense series, Lt. Eve Dallas goes back to school. The cause for her return to academia is the poisoning homicide of Craig Foster, a popular history teacher at posh Upper West Side Sarah Child Academy. The prime suspect is a promiscuous instructor with a penchant for grudges, but that lead goes cold when she too soon becomes a murder victim. Dallas's attempts to sort out these messy classroom capers is complicated by the unpleasant return of Magdalena Percell, a lascivious blonde with designs on Eve's billionaire beau, Rourke.
Publishers Weekly
Once again Lt. Eve Dallas shows why she's "New York City's top murder cop" in Roberts's 24th thriller under her Robb pseudonym set half a century into the future (after 2006's Born in Death). Dallas tries to close a case at the exclusive Sarah Child Academy, where two bright 10-year-old girls discover the body of Craig Foster, a popular history teacher who proves to have been poisoned by ricin-laced cocoa. Dallas wonders if another staff member or a parent might be involved, but after the prime suspect, a promiscuous teacher who's been harassing another employee, turns up dead, the investigation takes a shocking turn. Besides a provocative puzzler, Robb provides an intense relationship update on Dallas and Roarke, her Irish power broker hubby, whose dark past-in the form of a crooked ex-girlfriend-returns to cause trouble. This prolific author, a recent Quills romance winner, is still at the top of her game. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Writing as J.D. Robb, the pseudonym she uses for her near-future world series set in New York in the mid-2000s, the extremely prolific Nora Roberts gives us the 23rd book about NYPSD cop Lt. Eve Dallas. Her husband, Roarke, is a billionaire with one of the slipperiest pasts known to humankind. Not everything is perfect between Dallas and her brilliant husband, though. An old flame comes back into Roarke's life, and Dallas throws herself into work—investigating the murder of an ordinary man, a teacher in a posh school—to avoid her roaring jealousy. There are suspects aplenty and the requisite red herrings as Robb keeps unpeeling the layers of Eve and Roarke's relationship. Newcomers to the series should begin at the beginning with Naked in Death, as otherwise they may have some difficulty appreciating the depth of the characters' motivations and actions and could get lost in the large cast of fabulous supporting characters. Essential for all public libraries.
—Charli Osborne
Library Journal
Writing as J.D. Robb, the pseudonym she uses for her near-future world series set in New York in the mid-2000s, the extremely prolific Nora Roberts gives us the 23rd book about NYPSD cop Lt. Eve Dallas. Her husband, Roarke, is a billionaire with one of the slipperiest pasts known to humankind. Not everything is perfect between Dallas and her brilliant husband, though. An old flame comes back into Roarke's life, and Dallas throws herself into work-investigating the murder of an ordinary man, a teacher in a posh school-to avoid her roaring jealousy. There are suspects aplenty and the requisite red herrings as Robb keeps unpeeling the layers of Eve and Roarke's relationship. Newcomers to the series should begin at the beginning with Naked in Death, as otherwise they may have some difficulty appreciating the depth of the characters' motivations and actions and could get lost in the large cast of fabulous supporting characters. Essential for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/06.]-Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Future cop Eve Dallas (Born in Death, Nov. 2006, etc.) returns to investigate the murder of a popular history teacher and deal with an unexpected threat to her marriage. Two students discover the vomit-covered corpse of 26-year-old Craig Foster in his classroom at one of New York's toniest private schools. He's been done in by hot chocolate laced with ricin, a choice of poison that betrays a cold, calculating killer who intended the victim to suffer. But why? Craig was admired by students and faculty alike, madly in love with his beautiful wife and apparently free of enemies. Eve theorizes that he might have been silenced for knowing too much about the after-school shenanigans of faculty Lothario Reed Williams, who dallied with teachers and parents alike. Then Reed is drowned in the school pool, leaving several possible culprits, but still no motives or patterns that satisfy Lieutenant Dallas. When Eve's gut leads her to the least likely of perps, she faces an uphill battle to convince her colleagues before the killer strikes again. Her cop instincts are also triggered by the arrival of Magdelana Percell, a knockout blonde from hubby Roarke's larcenous past. Eve can tell from a split-second glance he gives "Maggie" that she once meant something to him, a discovery that prompts jealous brooding and uncharacteristic insecurity in the tough-talking heroine. Indeed, Magdelana is an unreformed con artist keen to pick up where she left off with Roarke, who can't see at first that he's being played. That leaves Eve to not only solve the case, but to make it home in time for a Valentine's Day dinner to sort out differences with her soulmate. Roarke and Eve remain an appealing pair, and Eve'sflashes of vulnerability contrast nicely with her no-nonsense approach to work. Occasionally, though, Robb's New-York-in-2060 gimmick draws undue attention to itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469265162
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 12/1/2012
  • Series: In Death Series , #24
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 966,554
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts is the number-one New York Times-bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including High Noon, Angels Fall, Blue Smoke, and Northern Lights. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 280 million copies of her books in print.

Biography

Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.

As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.

For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."

Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.

Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."

Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."

Good To Know

Roberts still lives in the same Maryland house she occupied when she first started writing -- though her carpenter husband has built on some additions. She and her husband also own Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland. When Roberts isn't busy writing, she likes to drop by the store, which specializes in Civil War titles as well as autographed copies of her own books.

Roberts sued fellow writer Janet Dailey in 1997, accusing her of plagiarizing numerous passages of her work over a period of years. Dailey paid a settlement and publicly apologized, blaming stress and a psychological disorder for her misconduct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      J. D. Robb; Sarah Hardesty; Jill March; Eleanor Marie Robertson (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Keedysville, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Silver Spring, Maryland

Read an Excerpt


Prologue

Pop quizzes were killers. like ambushing assassins they elicited fear and loathing in the prey, and a certain heady power in the hunter.

As Craig Foster prepared to take his lunch break and finish refining the quiz, he knew how his fifth-period U.S. history class would respond. Groans and gasps, winces of misery or panic. He understood completely. At twenty-six, he wasn’t so far removed from the student section of the classroom to have forgotten the pain or the anxiety.

He got out his insulated lunch sack. Being a creature of habit, he knew that his wife—and wasn’t it just mag being married—would have packed him a poultry pocket, an apple, some soy chips, and his favorite hot chocolate.

He never asked her to pack his lunch, or to make sure his socks were washed and folded in pairs and stacked in the right-hand side of his top drawer. But she said she liked doing things for him. The seven months they’d been married had been the best of his life. And it hadn’t sucked before that, either, he decided.

He had a job he loved, and was damn good at, he thought with a quick burst of pride. He and Lissette had a very decent apartment within reasonable walking distance of the school. His students were bright and interesting—and, bonus time, they liked him.

They’d grumble and sweat a bit over the pop quiz, but they’d do fine.

Before he got down to work, he shot his bride an e-mail.

Hey, Lissy! How about I pick up that soup you like, and the big salad on the way home from work tonight?

Miss you. Love every sweet inch of you!

You know who.

It made him smile thinking about how it would make her smile. Then he switched back to the quiz. He studied his comp screen as he poured out the first cup of hot chocolate and lifted the pocket bread filled with soy products masquerading as thinly sliced turkey.

There was so much to teach; so much to learn. The history of the country was rich and diversified and dramatic, full of tragedy, comedy, romance, heroism, cowardice. He wanted to pass all of it on to his students, to make them see how the country, and the world they lived in, had evolved into what they were in the early months of 2060.

He ate, added questions, deleted others. And he drank deep of his favorite chocolate as a soft snow fell outside the classroom window.

As the days of his own short history ticked minute by minute closer to their end.

Schools gave her the willies. It was a humbling thing for a tough-minded, kick-ass cop to admit, even to herself. But there it was. Lieutenant Eve Dallas, arguably New York City’s top murder cop, would rather have been stalking through an abandoned tenement in search of a psychotic chemi-head juiced on Zeus than striding down the pristine hallways of staunchly upper-middle-class Sarah Child Academy.

Despite the bright, primary colors along walls and floors, the sparkling glass of the windows, it was, for Eve, just another torture chamber.

Most of the doors along the maze were open, and the rooms beyond empty but for the desks, tables, counters, screens, boards.

Eve glanced over at Principal Arnette Mosebly, a sturdy, heading-¬toward-statuesque woman of about fifty. Her mixed-race heritage had given her skin the color of caramel cream and eyes of misty blue. Her hair was a glossy black worn in a ball of corkscrew curls. She wore a long black skirt with a short red jacket. The heels of her sensible shoes clicked and clacked on the floor as they walked along the second-floor corridor.

“Where are the kids?” Eve asked.

“I had them taken to the auditorium until their parents or guardians can pick them up. Most of the staff is there as well. I thought it best, and most respectful, to cancel afternoon classes.”

She paused a few feet away from where a uniformed cop stood in front of a closed door.

“Lieutenant, this is beyond tragic for us, and the children. Craig...” She pressed her lips together, looked away. “He was young and bright and enthusiastic. His whole life ahead of him, and—” She broke off, held up a hand as she struggled for composure. “I understand this sort of thing, I mean to say, having the police involved is routine in matters like this. But I hope you’ll be as discreet and efficient as it’s possible to be. And that it will be possible for us to wait to—to transport the body until after all the students have left the building.”

Now she straightened her shoulders. “I don’t know how that young man could have become so ill. Why would he have come in today if he was feeling unwell? His wife7mdash;he’s only been married a few months—I haven’t contacted her yet. I wasn’t sure—”

“You’re going to want to leave that to us. If you’ll give us a few moments.”

“Yes. Yes, of course.”

“Record on, Peabody,” Eve said to her partner. She nodded to the guard who stepped to the side.

Eve opened the door, stood at the threshold. She was a tall, lanky woman with a choppy cap of brown hair, with brown eyes that were flat and dispassionate now as she scanned the scene. Her movements were easy as she took a can of Seal-It from her field kit, coated her hands, her boots.

In nearly a dozen years on the force, she’d seen a lot worse than the doomed history teacher sprawled on the floor in pools of his own vomit and shit.

Eve noted the time and place for the record. “MTs responded to the nine-one-one, arriving at fourteen-sixteen. Pronounced victim, identified as Foster, Craig, at fourteen-nineteen.”

“Lucky we drew a couple MTs on the call who knew better than to move the body,” Peabody commented. “Poor bastard.”

“Having lunch at his desk? Place like this probably runs to a staff lounge, cafeteria, whatever.” Remaining at the threshold, Eve cocked her head. “Knocked over a jumbo insulated bottle, the chair.”

“Looks more like a seizure than a struggle.” Peabody skirted the edge of the room, her airboots squishing slightly. She checked the windows. “Locked.” She angled so she could study the desk, the body from that side of the room.

While her body was as sturdy as Arnette Mosebly’s, Peabody’s build would never be statuesque. Her dark hair had grown past the nape of her neck and curved up at the ends in a flirty little flip Eve had yet to resign herself to.

“Working lunch,” Peabody noted. “Lesson plans or grading papers. Allergic reaction to something he ate, maybe.”

“Oh, yeah, I’d say.” Eve crossed to the body, hunkered down. She’d run prints, do the standard gauge for TOD, all the rest, but for a moment she simply studied the dead.

Spider legs of broken vessels ran through the whites of his eyes. There were traces of foam as well as vomit clinging to his lips. “Tried to crawl after it hit him,” she murmured. “Tried to crawl for the door. Get the formal ID, Peabody, verify TOD.”

Rising, Eve moved carefully around the puddles of what Craig’s body had voided, and picked up the insulated cup she saw, which had his name engraved in silver over black. Sniffed.

“You think somebody poisoned this guy?” Peabody asked.

“Hot chocolate. And something else.” Eve bagged the cup into evidence. “Color of the vomit, signs indicating seizure, extreme distress. Yeah, I’m thinking poison. ME will verify. We’ll need to get clearance to access his medicals from the next of kin. Work the scene. I’m going to talk to Mosebly again, and pull in the witnesses.”

Eve stepped out again. Arnette Mosebly paced the hallway with a PPC in her hand. “Principal Mosebly? I’m going to have to ask you not to contact anyone, speak with anyone just yet.”

“Oh...I7mdash;actually, I was just—” She turned the PPC around so Eve could see the miniscreen. “Word game. Something to occupy my mind for a bit. Lieutenant, I’m worried about Lissette. Craig’s wife. She needs to be told.”

“She will be. Right now I’d like to speak with you, in private. And I need to interview the students who found the body.”

“Rayleen Straffo and Melodie Branch. The officer who responded said they couldn’t leave the building, and had to be separated.” Her lips thinned now in obvious disapproval. “Those girls were traumatized, Lieutenant. They were hysterical, as one would expect under these kinds of circumstances. I have Rayleen with the grief counselor, and Melodie with our nurse practitioner. Their parents should be with them by now.”

“You notified their parents.”

“You have your procedure, Lieutenant. I have mine.” She gave one of those regal nods Eve imagined were required in Principal Training 101. “My first priority is the health and safety of my students. These girls are ten years old, and they walk into that.” She nodded toward the door. “God knows what damage it’s done to them, emotionally.”

“Craig Foster isn’t feeling so well himself.”

“I have to do what needs to be done to protect my students. My school—”

“Right now, it’s not your school. It’s my crime scene.”

“Crime scene?” Color drained from Arnette’s face. “What do you mean? What crime?”

“That’s what I’m going to find out. I want the witnesses brought in, one at a time. Your office is probably the best place for the interviews. One parent or guardian per child during the interview.”

“Very well, then. Come with me.”

“Officer?” Eve looked over her shoulder. “Tell Detective Peabody I’m going to the principal’s office.”

His mouth twitched, very slightly. “Yes, sir.”

Chapter I

It was a different kettle altogether, Eve discovered, when you were the honcho instead of the one in the hot seat. Not that she’d particularly been a discipline problem in her day, she remembered. Mostly, she’d tried to be invisible, just get by, just get through and get out of the whole educational prison the day it was legal to do so.

But she hadn’t always managed it. A smart mouth and a bad attitude had surfaced often enough to earn her a few trips down to that hot seat.

She was supposed to be grateful the state was providing her, a ward thereof, with an education, with a home, with enough food to sustain life. She was supposed to be grateful to have clothes on her back, even if someone else had worn them first. She was supposed to want to better herself, which had been tough when she hadn’t remembered, not clearly, where she’d come from in the first place.

What she remembered most were the smug-toned lectures, the disappointed frowns that didn’t quite hide the superiority.

And the endless, the terminal, the all-pervasive boredom.

Of course, it hadn’t been smart and spiffy private schools for her, with state-of-the-art educational equipment, sparkling clean classrooms, stylish uniforms, and a one-teacher-per-six-students ratio.

She’d be willing to bet her next paycheck that the Sarah Child Academy didn’t run to fist fights in the hallways, or homemade boomers in the lockers.

But today, at least, it ran to murder.

While she waited in Mosebly’s office with its homey touches of live plants and stylish teapots, she did a quick run on the victim.

Foster, Craig, age twenty-six. No criminal. Both parents still living, she noted, and still married to each other. They lived in New Jersey, where Craig himself had been born and raised. He’d attended Columbia on a partial scholarship, earned his teaching certificate, and was working on a master’s degree in history.

He’d married Bolviar, Lissette, in July of the previous year.

He looked fresh and eager in his ID photo, Eve mused. A handsome young man with a clear complexion the color of roasted chestnuts. Deep, dark eyes, and dark hair worn in what Eve thought they were calling a high-top. Shaved close on the sides and back, brushed high on the crown.

His shoes had been trendy, too, she recalled. Black and silver gels, with ankle wraps. Pricey. But his sports jacket had been dirt brown, worn at the cuffs. Decent wrist unit, which had struck her as a knockoff. And a shiny gold band on the third finger of his left hand.

She imagined, when Peabody completed the scene, there would be under fifty credits in Craig’s pockets.

She made a few quick notes.

Where did the hot chocolate come from?

Who had access to the insulated cup?

Shared classroom?

Time line. Last to see vic alive, first to find body.

Insurance policies, death benefits? Beneficiaries?

She glanced up as the door opened.

“Lieutenant?” Mosebly stepped in, one hand on the shoulder of a young girl with milky skin dotted with freckles that went with her carrot-red hair. The hair was long and brushed back into a sleek tail.

She looked slight and shaky in her navy blazer and spotless khakis.

“Melodie, this is Lieutenant Dallas, with the police. She needs to speak with you. Lieutenant Dallas, this is Melodie’s mother, Angela Miles-Branch.”

The kid had gotten the hair and skin from Mom, Eve noted. And Mom looked just as shaky.

“Lieutenant, I wonder if this could possibly wait until tomorrow. I’d prefer taking Melodie home now.” Angela had Melodie’s hand in a death grip. “My daughter isn’t feeling well. Understandably.”

“It’ll be easier all around if we do this now. It shouldn’t take long. Principal Mosebly, if you’ll excuse us.”

“I feel I should stay, as a representative of the school and as Melodie’s advocate.”

“A representative isn’t required at this time, and the minor child’s mother is present as her advocate. You’ll need to step out.”

There was an argument in Mosebly’s eyes, but she tightened her jaw, stepped out of the room.

“Why don’t you take a seat, Melodie?”

Two fat tears, one for each big blue eye, spilled out. “Yes, ma’am. Mom?”

“I’m going to be right here.” Keeping hands joined, Angela took the seat beside her daughter. “This has been terrible for her.”

“Understood. Melodie, I’m going to record this.”

With the nod came two more silent tears. At the moment, Eve wondered why the hell she hadn’t taken the scene and sicced Peabody on the kids. “Why don’t you just tell me what happened?”

“We went into Mr. Foster’s class—um, Rayleen and I. We knocked first, because the door was closed. But Mr. Foster doesn’t mind if you need to talk to him.”

“And you needed to talk to Mr. Foster.”

“About the project. Ray and I are project partners. We’re doing a multimedia report on the Bill of Rights. It’s due in three weeks, and it’s our big second-term project. It counts for twenty-five percent of our grade. We wanted him to see the outline. He doesn’t mind if you ask him questions before class, or after.”

“Okay. Where were you before you went to Mr. Foster’s classroom?”

“I had lunch period, and my study group. Ray and I got permission from Ms. Hallywell to leave study group a few minutes early to speak with Mr. Foster. I have the pass.”

She started to reach into her pocket.

“That’s okay. You went inside the classroom.”

“We started to. We were talking, and we opened the door. It smelled awful. That’s what I said, I said: ‘Holy jeez, it really stinks in here.’” Tears rained again. “I’m sorry I said that, but—”

“It’s okay. What happened then?”

“I saw him. I saw him on the floor, and there was like, oh, gosh, there was all this vomit and every¬thing. And Ray screamed. Or I did. I guess we both did. And we ran out and Mr. Dawson came running down the hall and asked us what was the matter. He told us to stay there and he went back. He went inside. I watched him go inside. And he came out really fast, with his hand like this.”

She clamped her free hand over her mouth. “He used his talkie, I think, to call Principal Mosebly. And then Ms. Mosebly came and called the nurse. And then the nurse, Nurse Brennan, came and took us to the infirmary. She stayed with us, until Mr. Kolfax came and he took Ray with him. I stayed with Nurse Brennan until my mom came.”

“Did you see anyone else go into Mr. Foster’s room, or leave it?”

“No, ma’am.”

“When you were walking from your study group to the classroom, did you see anyone?”

“Um. I’m sorry. Um. Mr. Bixley was coming out of the boys’ restroom, and we passed Mr. Dawson on the way. We showed him our pass. I think that was all, but I wasn’t paying attention.”

“How did you know Mr. Foster would be in his classroom?”

“Oh, he’s always in his classroom before fifth period on Mondays. He always has his lunch in there on Mondays. And the last fifteen minutes is when he allows students to come in and talk, if they really need to. Even before that he doesn’t mind if it’s important. He’s so nice. Mom.”

“I know, baby. Lieutenant, please.”

“Nearly done. Melodie, did either you or Rayleen touch Mr. Foster, or anything in the classroom?”

“Oh, no, no, ma’am. We just ran away. It was awful, and we ran away.”

“All right. Melodie, if you remember anything else, any little thing at all, I need you to tell me.”

The child rose. “Lieutenant Dallas? Ma’am?”

“Yeah?”

“Rayleen said, when we were in the infirmary, Rayleen said that they would have to take Mr. Foster away in a big bag. Do you? Do you have to?”

“Oh, Melodie.” Angela turned the child into her, held tight.

“We’re going to take care of Mr. Foster now,” Eve said. “It’s my job to take care of him, and I will. Talking to me helps me do my job, it helps me take care of him.”

“Really?” Melodie sniffled, sighed. “Thank you. I want to go home now. May I go home now?”

Eve met the girl’s drenched eyes, nodded, then shifted her gaze to the mother. “We’ll be in touch. I appreciate your cooperation.”

“This has been very hard on the girls. Very hard. Come on, sweetheart. We’re going home.”

Angela draped her arm around Melodie’s shoulders and walked her from the room. Eve pushed away from the desk, followed them to the doorway. Mosebly was already heading for the pair.

“Principal Mosebly? Question.”

“I’m just going to escort Mrs. Miles-Branch and Melodie out.”

“I’m sure they know the way. In your office.”

Eve didn’t bother to sit this time, but simply leaned back on the desk. Mosebly steamed in, fists knotted at her sides.

“Lieutenant Dallas, while I perfectly understand you have a job to do, I’m appalled by your dismissive and arrogant attitude.”

“Yeah, I get that. Was it Mr. Foster’s habit to bring his own lunch and beverage to work?”

“I...I believe it was. At least several days a week. We have a nutritionist-certified cafeteria, of course. And state-approved vending. But many members of the staff prefer to bring their own, at least occasionally.”

“He generally eat alone? At his desk?”

Mosebly rubbed her thumb and forefinger over her forehead. “As far as I know he took his lunch in his classroom two or three days a week. A teacher’s work encompasses more than can be done during school hours. There are lesson plans, grading, reading, lecture and lab prep¬ara¬tions. Craig, like most of the staff, was also pursuing his own further education, which requires study and writing, and so forth. He’d lunch at his desk so that he could work while he ate. He was dedicated.”

The anger seemed to drain out of her. “He was young and idealistic. He loved teaching, Lieutenant Dallas, and it showed.”

“Did he have any problems with anyone on staff?”

“I’m really not aware of any. He was a friendly, easygoing young man. I felt, both personally and professionally, that we were fortunate to have him on our faculty.”

“Dismiss anyone lately?”

“No. We have very little turnover here at Sarah Child. Craig was in his second year with us. He filled a hole left by one of our teachers who retired after fifty years of ser¬vice. Twenty-eight of those years were given right here, at Sarah Child.”

“How about you? How long have you been here?”

“Three, as principal. I have twenty-five years in education, and in administration.”

“When did you last see Mr. Foster?”

“I saw him briefly this morning.” As she spoke, Mosebly went to a small cold box, took out a bottle of water. “He’d come in early to use the fitness facilities, as he did routinely. All staff are permitted to use the machines, programs, the pool, and so on. Craig made use of the privilege nearly every morning.”

She sighed as she poured water into a short glass. “Would you like some, Lieutenant?”

“I’m good.”

“I had a swim myself this morning, and was just leaving the pool area when he came in. We said good morning. I complained about the traffic, and kept going. I was in a hurry. I heard him dive in,” she murmured, then took a slow sip of water. “I heard the splash as I opened the locker room door. Oh, God.”

“What time was that?”

“About seven-thirty. I had an eight o’clock phone conference, and I was running behind because I’d spent too long in the pool. I was annoyed with myself, and barely spoke to Craig.”

“Where’d he keep his lunch?”

“Why, in his classroom, I suppose. Possibly the lounge, but I don’t recall I’ve ever seen him put anything in or take anything out of the friggie or cupboard in there.”

“Would the classroom be locked?”

“No. The school is, naturally, secured, but individual classrooms aren’t locked. There’s no purpose, and the Sarah Child program is based on trust and responsibility.”

“All right. You can send for the second witness. Rayleen Straffo.”

Mosebly nodded, but there was nothing regal about it this time. “What about the other students? My staff?”

“We’re going to need to interview the staff before any leave the building. You can dismiss the students, but I’ll need your registration list.”

“Very well.”

Alone, Eve pulled out her communicator to tag Peabody. “Status.”

“The body’s just being transported. The ME on the wagon concurs with your poisoning assessment, though he won’t commit until the vic’s on the slab. The sweepers are on scene. It looks as if the vic was working on his comp at TOD. Putting together a pop quiz for his next class.”

“There’s a motive,” Eve said dryly.

“I hated the pop quiz, and question its constitutionality. I did a quick check of the comp, and found the vic sent out an e-mail from that unit to an LFoster@Blackburnpub.com at twelve-oh-six today. No communication in or out prior to.”

“Wife’s name is Lissette. Content?”

“Just a sweetheart note, offering to pick up dinner on the way home from work. Recipient responded in the same tone, in the affirmative, at fourteen-forty-eight. Return post was not read.”

“Okay. I’m waiting for the second wit. I’ll send the principal back to you, have her set you up somewhere. Get started on interviewing the staff and let’s nail the time line in each case. I’ll take my share of them in here once I finish with the kid. Meanwhile, verify the wife’s residence and place of employment. We’ll notify after we leave here.”

“And the fun never ends.”

Eve clicked off as the door reopened, and again Mosebly entered with her hand on the shoulder of a young girl.

This one was blonde, with a cascade of curls held back from her face with a violet band. The band matched her eyes. They were puffy at the moment, red-rimmed, dominating a face of dewy skin with a slightly tipped-up nose. The mouth, rosy and bottom heavy, quivered.

She wore the same kind of uniform as Melodie, with the addition of a small gold star pinned to the lapel of the blazer.

“Rayleen, this is Lieutenant Dallas. Lieutenant, Rayleen is here with her father, Oliver Straffo. I’ll be just outside if I’m needed.”

“Have a seat, Rayleen.”

“Lieutenant.” Oliver kept his daughter’s hand in his. His voice resonated in the room, like a good actor’s in a theater. He was tall, gilded like his daughter. But his eyes were a cold steel-gray. She’d met them before. In court.

High-powered, high-dollar, high-profile defense attorney, she thought.

Crap.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 143 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 143 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    I've said before that the "...IN DEATH" series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) is my all-time favorite series, and after 24 books, that still holds true. <BR/><BR/>With INNOCENT IN DEATH, I spent as much time crying over the emotional disturbance between my favorite couple, Eve Dallas and Roarke, as I did trying to find out who committed the crimes. <BR/><BR/>When a likeable, all-around good guy teacher at a private school ends up dead, poisoned by ricin in his hot chocolate, the school is in shock. Eve immediately realizes that not all is at it seems at the school; that everyone, from the principal, to the other teachers, to the students, and to their parents have things they'd rather keep hidden. <BR/><BR/>While trying to solve the murder of Craig Foster, and the subsequent death of yet another teacher, Eve must deal with the emotional roller-coaster of the reappearance of one of Roarke's old flames. And unlike the majority of women from Roarke's past, Magdelena Purcell is a woman that Roarke never forgot. <BR/><BR/>As one passage states, when Magdelena informs Eve that Roarke didn't leave her, but that it happened the other way around, both women know that that small distinction makes all the difference. <BR/><BR/>INNOCENT IN DEATH is one of my new favorites in the series. Not only was the mystery an interesting and compelling one (with a suspect that I didn't see coming), but the true, deep emotions of my favorite couple made this a real winner. Thankfully, everything worked itself out in the end, and my heart, along with Eve's, is finally feeling lighter.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Loving the series, hope it never ends

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent futuristic police procedural

    In the year 2059 in New York City, Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department is assigned a homicide case that has her completely stumped. Craig Foster, a teacher at a posh private school, is drinking hot chocolate from his thermos cup that his wife made for him when he suddenly keels over and dies. Two yen year old students Rayleen Strafford and Melanie Branch find the body and they tell a teacher who comes out of the classroom to see why they are screaming. When Eve arrives on the scene she immediately knows he was poisoned and the toxicology report says he died from ingesting ricin. During the investigation, she learns that the teacher was well liked by students, fellow teachers, his superiors and his wife. She has no motive but believes the killing was cold blooded and calculating because the murderer switched cups while the teacher was out of the office. When a suspect is found drowned in the pool she knows he was murdered by the same person who killed the teacher only this victim was a sexual predator who had sex on school grounds with teachers and students¿ parents. The killer is hiding in plain sight but Eve doesn¿t want to believe her prime suspect could be the culprit. --- Nobody writes a futuristic police procedural better than J.D. Robb. In addition to dealing with a hard and heartbreaking case, she is unnerved that her husband¿s ex-flame Magdalena Percell is in town intent on causing trouble in her attempt to win back Roarke. The mystery is brilliantly arranged so nobody will easily guess who the killer is or what the motive is either. Ms. Robb constantly keeps her characters and storyline fresh so readers will find themselves easily awaiting the next installment in the ¿Death Series¿. --- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 27, 2009

    pull in read

    I bought this book becuse i wanted to try a new author and i have to say that i LOVED this book. It was captivating and it pulled you easily quickly through the story. I had to know what happened and the love between eve and husband was an added bonous not a distraction. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of detective or murder thrillers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    GREAT READ!

    This one was amazing! It was so hard to put it down because the story just pulls you in. I loved how Eve finally proved who had done it and how she did it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    What a twist!!

    I have read and own many of Nora Roberts ( J. Robb )books. Each one was a different from the last. This storyline kept me reading. Just when you think you've got the suspect figured out, once again Ms. Roberts proves you wrong. The twist on this was quite different from other books I have read based on her regular characters. I highly recommend it if you enjoy trying to figure it out before the police do!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    interesting book

    I enjoyed this book as I have most of Nora Roberts (and J.D.Robb) books. I find her J.D.Robb books good, but find that I get a little annoyed with the character of Dallas as she is too hard for a female of her characteristics. This is the 5th or 6th J.D.Robb book I've read and although they are interesting, I get peaved with Dallas and her attitude toward women. She is one,isn't she?, and married to a very hot man, has hot steamy sex, and then acts like she doesn't know how a women should act around babies or other women. I can see her wanting to be a bad ass cop at times, but tone it down a little when she is not being a cop--although she never seems to have downtime to be just a woman. Oh well, I do mostly enjoy the books, though.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014


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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Kids are always hoping for a No School day. They are wishing upo

    Kids are always hoping for a No School day. They are wishing upon a star that there is a snow day, a
    meteor crashes so there will be no school or other disasters!

    But never has a child wished upon that star for one of their favorite teachers to die a horrible painful death!

    Eve Dallas hates schools always have and always will but will have to suck it up and see who in
     their right mind would want to poison a teacher. And a respectful teacher at that. With no suspects
    to too many to count how will Dallas narrow it down to just one?

    Will another body help? Sure! Now two teachers are down for the count, was it an inside job?

    Was about money, sex, position, reputation?

    What if the person that has shown to be so innocent throughout the whole book that isn't even
    mentioned a lot? Is that person as innocent as they appear to be? And how will Dallas, who is going
    with gut instinct rather than facts, prove to her supriers and Roarke that she is in the right before the killer
    kills again, that's to close to home?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    Good reading

    I enjoy all of J..D. ROBB writing.. great ending twist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Favorite book!!!

    This is my favorite book in the series. I recently reread the whole series straight through for the second time and this one is still the best. It was very emotional watching Eve deal with an old love of Roarke's and wondering if he regrets his decision marrying her. The murder seemed to be secondary, which I was OK with.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    I really enjoy reading all of JD Robb's in death series. The se

    I really enjoy reading all of JD Robb's in death series. The series
    just keeps you wanting to go on to the next. Eve Dallas is my favorite
    character seeing her grow and develop into wife and friend is pure
    enjoyment.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    ANOTHER GREAT J. D. ROBB!

    LOVED IT! I HAD THIS BOOK IN MY PAPERBACK LIBRARY AND BOUGHT IT ON MY NOOK. READ IT AGAIN FOR ABOUT THE 5TH TIME AND STILL LOVED IT!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 12, 2012

    Great Series

    I've enjoyed every book. Now on #31.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    highly recommend

    I always enjoy these stories. I am on book 26 now. The banter between Eve and Roarke is wonderful. The mystery is new and fresh in every book. I hope she continues to write these for a long time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Excellent Book!!!!

    Another great book about Eve Dallas!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Best book

    Who knew it was going to be this good

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    yet another goodie

    Dalls at her best - as usual.
    A very enjoyable read - ended much too soon.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Highly recommend

    I love all JD Robb in death

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    One of the IN DEATH best!

    This book is fantastic...from beginning to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 143 Customer Reviews

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