Survivor in Death (In Death Series #20)

Survivor in Death (In Death Series #20)

4.6 156
by J. D. Robb, Nora Roberts, Nora D. Roberts

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No affairs. No criminal connections. No DNA. No clues. Lieutenant Eve Dallas may be the best cop in the city—not to mention having the lavish resources of her husband Roarke at her disposal—but the Swisher case has her baffled. The family members were murdered in their beds with brutal, military precision. The state-of-the-art security was breached, and

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No affairs. No criminal connections. No DNA. No clues. Lieutenant Eve Dallas may be the best cop in the city—not to mention having the lavish resources of her husband Roarke at her disposal—but the Swisher case has her baffled. The family members were murdered in their beds with brutal, military precision. The state-of-the-art security was breached, and the killers used night vision to find their way through the cozy middle-class house. Clearly, Dallas is dealing with pros. The only mistake they made was to overlook the nine-year-old girl cowering in the dark in the kitchen…
Now Nixie Swisher is an orphan—and the sole eyewitness to a seemingly inexplicable crime. Kids are not Dallas’s strong suit. But Nixie needs a safe place to stay, and Dallas needs to solve this case. Not only because of the promise she made to Nixie. Not only for the cause of justice. But also to put to rest some of her own darkest memories—and deepest fears. With her partner Peabody on the job, and watching her back—and with Roarke providing the kind of help that only he can give—Lieutenant Eve Dallas is running after shadows, and dead-set on finding out who’s behind them.

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Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
She writes top-notch women's fiction as Nora Roberts, futuristic police procedural mysteries under her recently revealed pseudoymn J. D. Robb, and is a No.1 New York Times–bestselling author under both names. In Survivor in Death, the prolific author has New York City homicide detective Eve Dallas battling bitter memories as well as cold-blooded killers, as she struggles to protect the lone survivor of a deadly home invasion.

The only thing that kept young Nixie Swisher from suffering the same fate as her parents, brother, housekeeper, and young sleepover companion was the impulsive nine-year-old's desire for an illicit orange fizzy at 2 a.m. Taking the bereft girl under her wing, Eve is determined to make sure the killers don't get the chance to finish their lethal job. From the first, however, the investigation is baffling. The Swishers were a nice family, living on the Upper West Side in a house with an excellent security system. Ordinary almost to a fault, they seemed unlikely victims for this carefully planned and executed crime. Valuables at the scene were left untouched, there was no sign of vandalism -- just the corpses of five people murdered in their sleep.

All Nixie saw was two people dressed in black, wearing night-vision goggles and carrying sharp knives. They were in and out in less than 15 minutes -- silent, swift, and deadly. Unwilling to turn the gutsy young survivor over to the questionable refuge of Child Protective Services, Eve brings her to the safest place she knows -- the fortresslike home she shares with her husband, Roarke. There's no doubt in her mind that this was a professional hit, Now it's up to Eve and her top-notch team of civilians and cops to protect the little girl while they track down the people responsible for this unspeakable tragedy. Sue Stone

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
In Death Series, #20
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Survivor in Death

By Nora Roberts

Putnam Adult

ISBN: 0-399-15208-3

Chapter One

Murder was always an insult, and had been since the first human hand had smashed a stone into the first human skull. But the murder, bloody and brutal, of an entire family in their own home, in their own beds, was a different form of evil.

Eve Dallas, NYPSD Homicide, pondered it as she stood studying Inga Snood, forty-two-year-old female. Domestic, divorced. Dead.

Blood spatter and the scene itself told her how it must have been. Snood's killer had walked in the door, crossed to the bed, yanked Snood's head up-probably by the mid-length blonde hair, raked the edge of the blade neatly-left to right-across her throat, severing the jugular.

Relatively tidy, certainly quick. Probably quiet. It was unlikely the victim had the time to comprehend what was happening. No defensive wounds, no other trauma, no signs of struggle. Just blood and the dead.

Eve had beaten both her partner and Crime Scene to the house. The nine-one-one had gone to Emergency, relayed to a black-and-white on neighborhood patrol. The uniforms had called in the homicides, and she'd gotten the tag just before three in the morning.

She still had the rest of the dead, the rest of the scenes, to study. She stepped back out, glanced at the uniform on post in the kitchen.

"Keep this scene secure."

"Yes, sir, Lieutenant."

She moved through the kitchen out into a bisected space-living on one side, dining on the other.Upper-middle income, single-family residence. Nice, Upper West Side neighborhood. Decent security, which hadn't done the Swishers or their domestic a damn bit of good.

Good furniture-tasteful, she supposed. Everything neat and clean and in what appeared to be its place. No burglary, not with plenty of easily transported electronics.

She went upstairs, came to the parents' room first. Keelie and Grant Swisher, ages thirty-eight and forty, respectively. As with their housekeeper, there was no sign of struggle. Just two people who'd been asleep in their own bed and were now dead.

She gave the room a quick glance, saw a pricey man's wrist unit on a dresser, a pair of woman's gold earrings on another.

No, not burglary.

She stepped back out just as her partner, Detective Delia Peabody, came up the steps. Limping-just a little.

Had she put Peabody back on active too soon? Eve wondered. Her partner had taken a serious beating only three weeks before after being ambushed steps outside her own apartment building. And Eve still had the image of the stalwart Peabody bruised, broken, unconscious in a hospital bed.

Best to put the image, and the guilt, aside. Best to remember how she herself hated being on medical, and that work was sometimes better than forced rest.

"Five dead? Home invasion?" Huffing a bit, Peabody gestured down the steps. "The uniform on the door gave me a quick run."

"It looks like, but we don't call it yet. Domestic's downstairs, rooms off the kitchen. Got it in bed, throat slit. Owners in there. Same pattern. Two kids, girl and boy, in the other rooms on this level."

"Kids? Jesus."

"First on scene indicated this was the boy." Eve moved to the next door, called for the lights.

"Records ID twelve-year-old Coyle Swisher." There were framed sports posters on his walls. Baseball taking the lead. Some of his blood had spewed onto the torso of the Yankees current hot left fielder.

Though there was the debris of an adolescent on the floor, on the desk and dresser, she saw no sign Coyle had had any more warning than his parents.

Peabody pressed her lips together, cleared her throat. "Quick, efficient," she said in flat tones.

"No forced entry. No alarms tripped. Either the Swishers neglected to set them-and I wouldn't bet on that-or somebody had their codes or a good jammer. Girl should be down here."

"Okay." Peabody squared her shoulders. "It's harder when it's kids."

"It's supposed to be." Eve stepped to the next room, called for lights, and studied the fluffy pink and white bed, the little girl with her blonde hair matted with blood. "Nine-year-old Nixie Swisher, according to the records."

"Practically a baby."

"Yeah." Eve scanned the room, and her head cocked. "What do you see, Peabody?"

"Some poor kid who'll never get the chance to grow up."

"Two pair of shoes over there."

"Kids, especially upper income, swim in shoes."

"Two of those backpack deals kids haul their stuff in. You seal up yet?"

"No, I was just-"

"I have." Eve walked into the crime scene, reached down with a sealed hand, and picked up the shoes. "Different sizes. Go get the first on scene."

With the shoes still in her hand, Eve turned back to the bed, to the child, as Peabody hurried out. Then she set them aside, took an Identi-pad out of her field kit.

Yes, it was harder when it was a child. It was hard to take such a small hand in yours. Such a small, lifeless hand, to look down at the young who'd been robbed of so many years, and all the joys, all the pains that went in them.

She pressed the fingers to the pad, waited for the readout.

"Officer Grimes, Lieutenant," Peabody said from the doorway. "First on scene."

"Who called this in, Grimes?" Eve asked without turning around.

"Sir, unidentified female."

"And where is this unidentified female?"

"I ... Lieutenant, I assumed it was one of the vics." She glanced back now, and Grimes saw the tall, lean woman in mannish trousers, a battered leather jacket. The cool brown eyes, flat cop's eyes, in a sharply featured face. Her hair was brown, like her eyes, short, choppy rather than sleek.

She had a rep, and when that icy gaze pinned him, he knew she'd earned it.

"So our nine-one-one calls in murder, then hops into bed so she can get her throat slashed?"

"Ah ..." He was a beat cop, with two years under his belt. He wasn't ranking Homicide. "The kid here might've called it, Lieutenant, then tried to hide in bed."

"How long you had a badge, Grimes?"

"Two years-in January. Lieutenant."

"I know civilians who've got a better sense of crime scene than you. Fifth victim, identified as Linnie Dyson, age nine, who is not a fucking resident of this fucking address. Who is not one Nixie Swisher. Peabody, start a search of the residence. We're looking for another nine-year-old girl, living or dead. Grimes, you idiot, call in an Amber Alert. She may have been the reason for this. Possible abduction. Move!"

Peabody snagged a can of Seal-It out of her own kit, hurriedly sprayed her shoes and hands.

"She could be hiding. If the kid called it in, Dallas, she could be hiding. She could be afraid to come out, or she's in shock. She could be alive."

"Start downstairs." Eve dropped on her hands and knees to look under the bed. "Find out what unit, what 'link placed the nine-one-one."

"On that."

Eve strode to the closet, searched through it, pushed into any area of the room where a child might hide. She started out, moving toward the boy's room, then checked herself.

You were a little girl, with what seemed to be a nice family. Where did you go when things got bad?

Somewhere, Eve thought, she herself never had to go. Because when things got bad for her, the family was the cause.

But she bypassed the other rooms and walked back into the master bedroom.

"Nixie," she said quietly, as her eyes scanned. "I'm Lieutenant Dallas, with the police. I'm here to help you. You call the police, Nixie?"

Abduction, she thought again. But why slaughter an entire household to snatch a little girl? Easier to boost her off the street somewhere, even to come in, tranq her, carry her out. More likely they'd found her trying to hide, and she'd be curled up somewhere, dead as the rest.

She called for lights, full, and saw the smears of blood on the carpet on the far side of the bed. A small, bloody handprint, another, and a trail of red leading to the master bath.

Didn't have to be the kid's blood. More likely the parents. More likely, but there was a hell of a lot of it. Crawled through the blood, Eve thought.

The tub was big and sexy, double sinks in a long peachy-colored counter, and a little closet-type deal for the toilet.

A smudged and bloody swath stained the pretty pastel floor tiles. "Goddamn it," Eve mumbled, and followed the trail toward the thick, green glass walls of a shower station.

She expected to find the bloodied body of a small dead girl.

Instead she found the trembling form of a live one.

There was blood on her hands, on her nightshirt, on her face.

For a moment, one hideous moment, Eve stared at the child and saw herself. Blood on her hands, her shirt, her face, huddled in a freezing room. For that moment, she saw the knife, still dripping, in her hand, and the body-the man-she'd hacked to pieces lying on the floor.

"Jesus. Oh Jesus." She took a stumbling step back, primed to run, to scream. And the child lifted her head, locked glassy eyes on hers, and whimpered.

She came back, hard, as if someone had slapped her. Not me, she told herself as she fought to get her breathing under control. Nothing like me.

Nixie Swisher. She has a name. Nixie Swisher.

"Nixie Swisher." Eve said it out loud, and felt herself settle. The kid was alive, and there was a job to do.

One quick survey told Eve none of the blood was the child's.

Even with the punch of relief, the stiffening of spine, she wished for Peabody. Kids weren't her strong suit.

"Hey." She crouched, carefully tapped the badge she'd hooked to her waistband with a finger that was nearly steady now. "I'm Dallas. I'm a cop. You called us, Nixie."

The child's eyes were wide and glazed. Her teeth chattered.

"I need you to come with me, so I can help you." She reached out a hand, but the girl cringed back and made a sound like a trapped animal.

Know how you feel, kid. Just how.

"You don't have to be afraid. Nobody's going to hurt you." Keeping one hand up, she reached in her pocket with the other for her communicator. "Peabody, I've got her. Master bath. Get up here."

Wracking her brain, Eve tried to think of the right approach. "You called us, Nixie. That was smart, that was brave. I know you're scared, but we're going to take care of you."

"They killed, they killed, they killed ..."


Her head shook, like an old woman with palsy. "They killed, they killed my mom. I saw, I saw. They killed my mom, my dad. They killed-"

"I know. I'm sorry."

"I crawled through the blood." Eyes huge and glassy, she held out her smeared hands. "Blood."

"Are you hurt, Nixie? Did they see you? Did they hurt you?"

"They killed, they killed-" When Peabody turned into the room, Nixie screamed as if she'd been stabbed. And launched herself into Eve's arms.

Peabody stopped short, kept her voice very calm, very quiet. "I'll call Child Protection. Is she injured?"

"Not that I can see. Shocky, though."

It felt awkward holding a child, but Eve wrapped her arms around Nixie and got to her feet. "She saw it. We've got not only a survivor, but an eye witness."

"We've got a nine-year-old kid who saw-" Peabody spoke in undertones as Nixie wept on Eve's shoulder, and jerked her head toward the bedroom.

"I know. Here, take her and-" But when Eve tried to peel Nixie away, the child only wrapped herself tighter.

"I think you're going to have to."

"Hell. Call CPS, get somebody over here. Start a record, room by room. I'll be back in a minute."

She'd hoped to pass the kid to one of the uniforms, but Nixie seemed glued to her now. Resigned, and wary, she carted Nixie down to the first floor, looked for a neutral spot, and settled on what looked like a playroom.

"I want my mom. I want my mom."

"Yeah, I got that. But here's the thing: You've got to let go. I'm not going to leave you, but you gotta loosen the grip."

"Are they gone?" Nixie pushed her face into Eve's shoulder. "Are the shadows gone?"

"Yes. You have to let go, sit down here. I have to do a couple of things. I need to talk to you."

"What if they come back?"

"I won't let them. I know this is hard. The hardest." At wit's end, she sat on the floor with Nixie still clinging to her. "I need to do a job, that's how I can help. I need to ..." Jesus. "I need to get a sample from your hand, and then you can clean up. You'd feel better if you got cleaned up, right?"

"I got their blood ..."

"I know. Here, this is my field kit. I'm just going to take a swab for evidence. And I need to take a recording.

Then you can go to the washroom over there and clean up. Record on," Eve said, quietly, then eased Nixie back.

"You're Nixie Swisher, right? You live here?"

"Yeah, I want-"

"And I'm Lieutenant Dallas. I'm going to swab your hand here, so you can clean up. It won't hurt."

"They killed my mom and my dad."

"I know. I'm sorry. Did you see who they were? How many there were?"

"I have their blood on me."

Sealing the swab, Eve looked at the child. She remembered what it was to be a little girl, covered in blood not her own. "How about you wash up?"

"I can't."

"I'll help you. Maybe you want a drink or something. I can-" And when Nixie burst into tears, Eve's eyes began to ache.

"What? What?"

"Orange Fizzy."

"Okay, I'll see if-"

"No, I went down to get one. I'm not supposed to, but I went down to get one, and Linnie didn't want to wake up and come. I went down to the kitchen, and I saw."

With blood smeared on both of them now, Eve decided washing up would have to wait. "What did you see, Nixie?"

"The shadow, the man, who went into Inga's room. I thought ... I was going to watch, just for a minute, if they were going to do it, you know."

"Do what?"

"Sex. I wasn't supposed to, but I did, and I saw!"

There were tears and snot as well as blood on the kid's face now. With nothing else handy, Eve pulled a wipe rag out of her field kit and passed it over.

"What did you see?"

"He had a big knife and he cut her, he cut her bad." She closed her own hand over her throat. "And there was blood."

"Can you tell me what happened then?"

As the tears gushed, she rubbed the wipe and her hands over her cheeks, smearing them with blood. "He left. He didn't see me, and he left and I got Inga's 'link and I called Emergency."

"That's stand-up thinking, Nixie. That was really smart."

"But I wanted Mom." Her voice cracked with tears and mucus flowing. "I wanted Dad, and I went up the back way, Inga's way, and I saw them. Two of them. They were going into my room, and Coyle's room, and I knew what they would do, but I wanted my mom, and I crawled in, and I got their blood on me, and I saw them. They were dead. They're all dead, aren't they? Everybody. I couldn't go look. I went to hide."

"You did right. You did exactly right. Look at me. Nixie." She waited until those drenched eyes met hers.

"You're alive, and you did everything right. Because you did, it's going to help me find the people who did this, and make them pay."

"My mommy's dead."


Excerpted from Survivor in Death by Nora Roberts Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Survivor in Death (In Death Series #20) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 156 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the year 2059 two intruders break into the home of the Swisher family, killing the parents, the son, their daughter¿s friend, and their nanny. The daughter Nixie survived because she went downstairs to get a drink and hid when she saw a man kill her nanny and saw the men go upstairs to kill her family and friend........................... When New York Police and Security Department Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her partner Detective Delia Peabody arrives at the scene, Eve deduces that one person remains unaccounted for amidst the tragedy. She searches the home until she finds Nixie hiding in the bathroom. She feels that the frightened traumatized little girl remains in danger so she brings the lass home with her to keep her safe until she can bring the animals that did the heinous crimes to justice. When a social service worker is snatched in daylight, Eve knows the killers are on the move so she sets a trap that backfires with two officers dead. Now the entire department wants these killers caught preferably dead.................. Once again J.D. Robb provides an outstanding futuristic police procedural thriller that is loaded with action but contains the author¿s usual dose of romance. Readers will enjoy observing Eve and her billionaire husband Roark deal with hardened criminals without a second thought, but are deathly afraid of Nixie. SURVIVOR IN DEATH is one of the better books in a terrific series because Eve seems more vulnerable as she feels her latest assignment is the worst ever because it involves children and she struggles to relate to a child who has lost everything. Ms. Robb is one of the best writers of inter-crossing mystery, romance, and science fiction into top quality tales...................... Harriet Klausner
JoJoBooks More than 1 year ago
This was one of my favorites of the 'in death' series. Not only do we show growth within the characters, esp Eve, but we have them all encounter a child. If you read the series, you know Eve's past and this book was absolutely captivating from the first page. I would've like Eve to interact with the survivor a bit more but the interactions we had were emotional and i look forward to watching Eve's growth in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I accidentally bought this book and was upset because I thought it was going to be cheesy.... But, I was so wrong. This book was so good I couldn't wait to pick it up to see what would happen next Eve and Roarke and Summerset and Peabody are an amazing cast. So not that I read series #20 I have to start the series from number one need to know exactly how Roarke and Eve got along in the beginning of their relationship :) I highly recommend this book...
Laine-librariancanreadtoo More than 1 year ago
It was precise. It was clean. It was military style. It was done silently. It isn't over. A very nice family, a very humble family gets rips to shreds by an unknown shadow, with no DNA, no fingerprints all done with military precision. Everything was by the book. The housekeeper's throat - slashed. The Father and Mother's throat - slashed. The boy and the girl's throat - slashed. Everything is done. Except one. One got away. One was hidden in the shadows just like them and survived. Now it's up to Dallas to figure out who, what, and why anyone would want to kill a very nice humble family and try to murder the little girl that got away. Trying to get through her own demons of the past, she has to try to help a little girl through hers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this one. Great case and a pull at the heart strings.
NanSH More than 1 year ago
This book is another great book, I am reading the In Death Series and completely enjoy all of the Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb books. These books are not books for the younger readers. I will continue to read her books with great pleasure. I know nothing about book clubs so I am not sure what to say about a book club discussions. But I would have no problem discussing this or any of her books with someone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
#20 and still counting. This was another great book. I mostly enjoy the characters. As someone I know put it, it is "dark" yes and I agree, but I concentrate mostly on the characters themselves. I just love Eve. What a wonder, strong cop, cop,yet woman. I love Roarke! How those two interact is just awesome and how they both help eachother. Not to many of the older characters in this book. New child, Nixie the sole survivor of her family murder. Hopefully in the books to come she will come back to visit as a grown adult. Mavis had a short part towards the end. All in all I give this book 5 stars. Can't put it down once I get going. I intend to read all the in death books. Eve is my hero!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual Eve is every bit as exciting, funny and tough as nails in this plot. I did not want to put the book down once I started reading it. I have stayed up as late as 5 A.M. in order to finish the currant chapter. This book was so good that I finished it in record time. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good murder mystery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These is my first book I ever read from Nora Roberts, I fell in love with the characters. I was reading other detectives books till my friend introduce me to JD ROBB, I was so hooked after Survivor In Death, I read Memory In Death, Born In Death and Innocent in Death to these series I had to start from the beginning of her first book Naked In Death. I would read two books within One week, right now I am on Seduction In Death. I had my sister and friends buy the rest of Nora Roberts Death series for Christmas. I brought Creation In Death in Novemeber and have not read it yet waiting to finish all the other books before I read it. Keep up the good work Nora, my favorite is Summerset.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was a pleasure. The way that Nixie was written and her faith in Lt Dallas was wonderful. The fact that Lt. Dallas brought the child home, showed the dedication to her work. Even though it brought back painful memories for Lt. Dallas, Nixie would be safe with Lt. Dallas & Roarke. Because of the experiences of Lt. Dallas & Roarke when they were children, it was a forgone conclusion that they would not be able to keep Nixie. In caring for Nixie, they wanted what was best for her and found a wonderful solution for her.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I love Eve Dallas. J D Robb books are always exciting and entertaining
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Working my way through the series. Already ordered #21!!!
Penned-in-Ink More than 1 year ago
If you like the "In Death" series, you'll love this one. Series fans have come to expect the usual great things: a tight plot, driven by somewhat eccentric yet completely enjoyable characters, he who-done-it slowly revealed through a number of unanticipated twists and turns, and story lines threaded from novel to novel which bind the characters ever closer together. "Survivor in Death" has all of these...and what I consider to be one of JD Robb's most surprising plots. What makes this one stand out from the rest is the victim for which Eve stands. This survivor is unique. There is more emotion and psychological tug at the heart strings - and not in the "romance novel genre" way. *hankies not required* Buy it. Read it. Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ThornClan rocks! <p> You should totally join! <p> If your in but not there, <br> you better come back! <p> Join us today! <p> Join us at 'ite'! <p> And you might be deputy!
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My husband and Iove this series. This book is very heart wrenching. Excellent series love all the details and the banter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the element of Eve having to deal with a child. Had some very touching moments.
PsiqueBezerra More than 1 year ago
This story was extra hard for Eve and Roarke because a little girl needed their help and we all know they have a difficult time with kids because of their past. I loved seeing Eve lost with the kid and asking for help. Roarke was perfect in this story and became such a cute guy talking about kids, yes, plural, almost gave Eve a heart attack. The story was simple to me and after Eve realised revenge was the reason, she nailed fast the person responsible. I liked to see Peabody again and it became clear to me that Eve circle is growing each day. Mavis is getting bigger and scaring Eve even more. Dr. Mira is always right in her questions, Eve really needed her with the kid. It was a different story because Eve got personal with a witness, but the investigation was easy enough.
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Very good