Bart Minnock, founder of the computer gaming giant U-Play, is found in his locked private playroom, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. Despite his violent end, Eve can’t find anyone—girlfriend and business partners included—who seemed to have a problem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire.
Of course gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks—as Eve’s husband, Roarke, one of U-Play’s competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naïve, and he knew how to fight back in the real world as well as the virtual one.
Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction—and the price of defeat is death...
About the Author
Date of Birth:1950
Place of Birth:Silver Spring, Maryland
Read an Excerpt
Lieutenant Eve Dallas badged the shell-shocked doorman and breezed by. The sun and sultry heat left over from the night’s storms boosted her mood. At her side, her partner, Peabody, wilted.
“A couple months ago all you did was bitch about the cold. Now you bitch about the heat. Never satisfied.”
Peabody, her dark hair pulled back in a stubby tail, continued to bitch. “Why can’t they regulate the temperature?”
“Who are they?”
“The weather people. We must have the technology. Why not give us at least a couple weeks of steady mid-seventies? It’s not too much to ask. You could get Roarke to work on it.”
“Oh yeah, I’ll tell him to get on that, right after he buys up the last ten percent of the universe.” Eve rocked back on her heels as they took the elevator up, and thought of her husband of almost two years.
Actually, he probably could figure something. “If you want regulated temps, get a job where you work inside with climate control.”
“June’s supposed to be daisies and wafty breezes.” Peabody waved a hand in the air. “Instead we’re getting thunder boomers and humiture to kill."
“I like the boomers.”
Peabody’s dark eyes narrowed as she studied Eve’s angular face. “You probably had lots of sex last night. You’re almost perky.”
“Shut up. I’m never perky.”
“Almost. You’re verging on perk.”
“You’re verging on a boot up the ass.”
“That’s better anyway.”
Amused despite herself, Eve straightened her long, lean frame, then strode out the elevator when the doors whisked open.
The uniforms in the hallway came to attention. “Lieutenant.”
“Officer. What have we got?”
“Victim’s Bart Minnock, the U-Play guy.”
“You play what?”
“U-Play, sir, it’s the comp and holo-game company. The girlfriend found him this morning. He stood her up last night, she says, and she came to read him the riot act. House droid let her in, and when she got here he was locked in his holo-room, got the droid to open it up.” The uniform paused. “I think you’re going to want to see for yourself.”
“Where’s the girlfriend?”
“CeeCee Rove. We’ve got her inside, and an officer’s with her. Got the droid on hold.”
“We’ll take the scene first.” She stepped inside, scanned. What she could see of the first level struck her as a clubhouse for a very rich, very indulgent adolescent boy.
Bright, primary colors with more cushion than structure, walls of screens, games, and more games, toys—heavy on the war toys. Not a living area so much as a big playroom. She supposed, given his profession, it fit.
“Third floor, LT. There’s an elevator.”
“We’ll take the stairs.”
“It’s like a personal fun park,” Peabody commented as they started up. “McNab would weep with joy and envy,” she added, thinking of her main man. “I’ve got to say, it’s pretty frosty.”
“He might live like a kid, but he had very grown-up security on the door.” She detoured on the second level long enough to determine the master bedroom was another playground, the guest rooms equipped for plenty of entertainment. He kept a home office that reminded her of a small version of Roarke’s home computer lab, but with more fanciful touches.
“Serious about his work,” she murmured. “Lived his work.” She backtracked to the stairs and up to the officer on the door of the holo-room.
“This door was secured?”
“The girlfriend states it was, sir, and the coms shut down. The droid confirms. It had emergency bypass clearance. The log shows the victim entering, then securing the room at sixteen thirty-three. No other entry or attempted entry until nine-eighteen this morning.”
“Okay.” Both Eve and Peabody opened their field kits, sealed up.
“Record on,” she said and stepped to the doorway.
She wasn’t often surprised. She’d been a cop nearly a dozen years, and though she knew she hadn’t seen it all—you never did—she’d seen plenty.
But her long brown eyes widened briefly as she took in the scene.
“Now, this is something you don’t see every day.”
“Man. Oh, man.” Peabody sucked in a sharp breath.
“Don’t even think about booting.”
“Have to think about it.” Peabody swallowed hard. “Won’t do it.”
The body lay sprawled, arms and legs splayed in the bloody pool that spread over the floor. The head sat several feet away, the filmed eyes wide, the mouth in a gaping O.
“It must be said the victim lost his head, which is a pretty good guess for cause of death. Alone in a secured holo-room, no weapons. Interesting. Well, let’s have a look.”
She heard Peabody swallow again.
“Take the play board, see what he programmed,” she ordered. “And I want all security discs and logs, building and for this unit.”
“On that,” Peabody said, grateful for the reprieve as Eve crossed to the body.
For the record, Eve verified the fingerprints. “Victim is identified as Bart Minnock of this address, age twenty-nine.” She pulled out a pair of microgoggles. “From the on-scene exam, it appears the head was severed with a single, powerful blow. No signs of sawing or hacking.” She ignored the discreet gagging sound from Peabody’s direction. “In addition, the victim incurred a six-inch gash on his left forearm. There’s some bruising, but none of those wounds would’ve been fatal. ME to confirm. Morris is going to love this one,” she added, then rose to examine the head.
“Had to be a hell of a blade—big, sharp bastard, to decapitate this clean. A lot of force behind it. The secondary gash could’ve come from the same weapon. Glancing blow sort of thing. Defensive wound. The bruising’s pretty minor.”
She sat back on her heels, the head at her feet. “There’s nothing in here that could’ve caused these wounds. No way he could’ve cut his own head off, deliberately or by accident with what he had to work with.”
“I can’t get it to run,” Peabody told her. “The program. The disc won’t even eject without the proper security sequence. All I’ve got is the log-in time and program end time. It ran for just over thirty minutes, and ended at seventeen-eleven.”
“So he came home, came up here almost directly, programmed the game. It looks like it, and he, ran for the thirty minutes. We need an e-team and the sweepers in here. I want the ME to red-flag the tox screen. Maybe somebody slipped him something, influenced him to bypass his own security, somehow keep it off the logs. Set it up, then take the droid. I’ll take the girlfriend.”
Eve found CeeCee in the media room on the first level. A pretty blond with an explosion of curls, she sat in one of the roomy chairs. It dwarfed her, even with her legs tucked up, and her hands clasped in her lap. Her eyes—big, bright, and blue—were red-rimmed, puffy, and still carried the glassiness of shock.
Eve dismissed the officer with a nod, then crossed over to sit.
“Yes. I’m supposed to stay here. Somebody took my ’link. I should tag somebody, shouldn’t I? Somebody.”
“We’ll get that back to you. I’m Lieutenant Dallas. Why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“I told somebody.” CeeCee looked around vaguely. “The other police. I’ve been thinking. Is Bart playing a joke? He does that sometimes. Plays jokes. He likes to pretend. Is this all pretend?”
“No, it’s not.” Eve took the chair facing so her gaze would be level with CeeCee’s. “You were supposed to meet him last night?”
“At my place. At eight. I made dinner. We were going to have dinner at my place because I like to cook. Well, sometimes. But he didn’t come.”
“What did you do?”
“He can be late. It’s okay. He gets caught up. Sometimes I’m late, so it’s okay. But he didn’t come, and he didn’t answer the ’link. I tried his office, too, but Benny said he left a little after four to work at home for a bit.”
“Benny Leman. He works with Bart, and he was still there. They work late, a lot. They like to.”
“Did you come over here to find out what he was doing?”
“No. I almost did. I got pretty steamed because I went to a lot of trouble, you know? I mean I cooked, and I got wine and candles, everything.” She drew in a breath that hitched and stuttered. “And he didn’t come or let me know he’d be late. He forgets, and that’s okay, but he always answers his ’link, or remembers before it’s really late. He sets reminders. But I was pretty steamed, and it was storming. I thought, ‘I’m not going out in this.’ So I drank some wine and I ate dinner, and I went to bed. Screw it.”
She covered her face, keening a little, rocking herself while Eve stayed silent. “I just said screw it, screw you, Bart, because I’d made a really nice dinner. But this morning, I was really, really steamed because he never came or tried to reach me, and I didn’t have to be to work till ten, so I came by. I thought, okay, that’s okay, we’re going to have our first big fight because that’s no way to treat somebody. Is it?”
“No. How long have you been seeing each other?”
“Almost six months.”
“And this would’ve been your first big fight? Seriously?”
CeeCee smiled a little even as tears continued to drip. “I got a little bit steamed once in a while, but you can’t stay mad at Bart. He’s such a sweetie. But this time, I was laying it down. Leia let me in.”
“Oh, his house droid. He had her designed to look like the Star Wars character. From Return of the Jedi.”
“Anyway, she said he was in the holo-room, fully secured, and had the coms down. DO NOT DISTURB. That according to her morning log, he’d been in there since about four-thirty or something the day before. So I got worried. Like maybe he’d gotten sick in there, or passed out, and I convinced her to bypass.”
“You convinced a droid?”
“Bart programmed her to listen to me after we’d been tight for a few months. Plus he’d been in over his twelve-hour limit. Then she opened the room, and . . .”
Her lips trembled; her eyes welled anew. “How can it be real? First I thought it was, and I screamed. Then I thought it was a joke, or a droid, and I almost got steamed again. Then I saw it was Bart. It was Bart. And it was horrible.”
“What did you do?”
“I think I kind of fainted. But, like, on my feet. I don’t know, for a second or a minute everything went black and swirly, and when it wasn’t, I ran.” Tears streamed down her cheeks even as she flushed. “I ran downstairs. I almost fell, but I got downstairs and I called nine-one-one. Leia made me sit down, and she made me tea. She said there’d been an accident and we had to wait for the police. That would be in her programming,I guess. But it can’t be an accident. How can it be an accident? But it has to be.”
“Do you know anyone who’d want to hurt Bart?”
“How could anyone want to hurt Bart? He’s just a big kid. A really smart big kid.”
“How about family?”
“His parents live in North Carolina. He bought them a house on the beach because they always wanted one, once U-Play took off. Oh God, oh God, his parents! Somebody has to tell them.”
“I’ll take care of that.”
“Okay, okay.” She shut her eyes tight. “Good. Because I don’t think I could. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to do any of this.”
“What about you? Old boyfriends?”
Her eyes popped open. “Oh God, no. I mean, yes, I had boyfriends before Bart, but nobody who’d . . . I never had the kind of breakup that would . . . I wasn’t seeing anybody special or regular before I hooked up with Bart.”
“How about at his business? Did he have to let anyone go recently, or reprimand anyone?”
“I don’t think so.” She swiped at her cheeks now as her brow furrowed in thought. “He never said anything to me, and he would’ve. I think. He hated confrontations, except in a game. He’d have told me if he’d had trouble with anyone at work, I really think. He’s a happy guy, you know? He makes other people happy, too. How could it happen? I don’t know how this could happen. Do you?”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Four partners founded the computer-gaming firm U-Play. One of them Bart Minnock is the glue that holds the group together. He comes home one day, locks his door, enters his inner sanction and begins to play the new cutting -edge word-wielding warrior game Fantastical, the firm's newest which is cutting edge and not yet released to the public.. He is shocked when his hologram is hit and he feels the pain. The next day NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is assigned the locked room murder of Bart Minnock, who was found lying on his blood soaked floor. Eve struggles with figuring out how the victim was killed before she can focus on who the culprit is. Until the police entered, the door was locked with no evidence of any tampering yet someone entered and left leaving in spite of a security droid who it says no one was there. However her investigation forces the killer to target the persistent cop and her wealthy spouse and "technical consultant" Roarke. J.D. Robb consistently writes a strong futuristic police procedural with a deep romantic subplot enhancing the mysteries; now at an incredible thirty tales. Eve is a strong stubborn individual who refuses to quit though progress in terms of resolving opportunity is lacking. Recurring characters make appearances, which provide a feel of continuity to long term fans. Filled with action, Fantasy in Death is a terrific five decades in the future locked door whodunit. Harriet Klausner
Fantasy in Death follows the murder of Bart Minnock one of the co-owners of U-Play, a company in the midst of creating a new game that would change the gaming world. Bart is murdered inside a locked room with no murder weapon or person present. Eve's introspection on friendship, partnership and love is an interesting feature. She's really starting to get the hang of being married and is lovable, sweet and funny. Enjoyed the investigative journey to find the murderer.
Synopsis: Refreshed from her previous caseload, the ever-ready Lt. Eve Dallas isn't quite so ready for the scene she finds at gaming guru Bart Minnock's supped up apartment. Apparently the late Bart Minnock, co-founder and face of up and coming gaming company U-Play, was on the verge of finishing up and marketing a game that would catapult his company to tops of the gaming industry and would have been considered "to die for," and he did, when someone decided to take a chop at him. Now, the strong and sexy Eve Dallas must use all of her wits and resources to track a killer that, by all rights, doesn't exist. With a victim everyone seemed to love, a very short short list, no witnesses or physical evidence and another member of U-Play's founding team in the ICU, Eve is racing the clock to catch a killer who just may be better at the game than she; but can she do it without losing her head? Review: This was a great read, as are all of the In Death books. If you have read all the books in the series and have become familiar with the twists and turns and thought process of Lieutenant Eve Dallas, the book may become a little predictable towards the middle and continue on to the end. I was not very impressed with the way the book ended and have come to expect more of a shock value from J.D. Robb's writing. While the book is still as good as any another installment of the In Death legacy, with this succeeding Promises In Death (which was phenomenal), I was expecting a bit more of a challenge. The vivid imagery and ideological technology the plot surrounds gives the book a very nice edge that geeks everywhere will appreciate; myself included. While the ideas of the future presented in each In Death installment are always interesting and thought-provoking-especially beginning with Divided In Death where more technological focus was brought in-this book centers on it! Being a geek doesn't mean you have to love flying cars. While I'm not a huge fan of what many peoples ideas or thoughts of the future are, I have always enjoyed that J.D. Robb does not focus on that element, but makes it blissfully apparent what the environment will be like-to her mind or simply for this series-in 2059-2060. You don't have to be afraid of being inundated with "sci-fi" when you read these books. She (J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts) pours it on with the skill of a pastry chef! Just enough to keep your sweet tooth from aching from the onslaught of sugar. Speaking of sugar, I have always respected the love scenes in the In Death books between Roarke and Eve. Scenes filled with love and passion and, at times, fun and lust. But not filth. The love scenes neither diminish the books themselves nor the plots therein. They have a way of sucking you in and making you feel the emotions between them. Conclusion: Even if you're not satisfied 100% with the way the book ends, you'll love it. J.D. Robb delivers again. Whatever the book may be lacking in certain areas, it makes up for in others. And it gives us hope for the next! Check it out for yourself. A DEFINITE recommend!! Enjoy!!
While a lot of readers have complained how the series has run into a rut, I believe "Fantasy In Death" proves that there are still plenty of things to write about in 2060 New York City. I tried to pace myself,I really did! This particular story has is much more of a "thinker's" story,and is packed with more E-info than normal. Eve, Peabody, Feeney and the EDD Division geeks(as well as Roarke, my favorite "expert consultant, civilian") are are wrapped up in a classic Christie style locked room mystery. It's fascinating to see how the grand dame's plot of the early 20th century finds itself in mid 21st century New York. A headless corpse,no weapon, a locked secure room...Read very carefully! A quick cameo by Nadine, Mavis, Leonardo and Belle is just enough without taking away from the story's pace. My only complaint is how the story seems to completely wrap up exactly by the last chapter,and the whole thing seemed rushed.
I have read all of J.D. Robbs' In Death series, she continues to amaze me with her quick wit, exquisitely consistant characterisation, and truly devious plots. And this book Fantasy in Death, was another #1 in my opinion example of her writing. If you haven't read any of her prior books, you don't need to because she does an excellent job, given the readers enough information without being boring or wordy to introduce her characters. I find that ability a huge plus and it does help get the reader back into her series, even though you haven't read one of the other books in a while. As for this book specifically, and no I don't do spoilers, I will have to say -- this was an incredibly clever plot that left me guessing who had done it until she revealed the 'whom' in the book. Well written, lots of fun, and a very enjoyable read. Enjoy.
Having read all of the Eve Dallas "Death" series books, I have yet to be disappointed. As the lead characters grow as individuals and as the best crime-stopper team in literature, we learn to love and respect them more and more. This latest edition continues to show the Eve/Rourke struggle with their "perfect love" and the evolution of a fascinating "cop crew" of supporting characters. This edition mingles the present-day love we have for all things gaming with the futuristic possibility of turn a fun experience into a deadly game of betrayal. Each book leaves me wanting more and this one was no exception.
As always, Nora Roberts comes through with the newest of her In Death series. Entertaining, fast past and with enjoyable characters. The only issue I have is that I sometimes wonder how Roarke can run a multi-billion dollar business when he spends so much time as an "civilian expert". But that aside, it is a great kickback and relax read.
This is the latest strong Eve Dallas book and stands up to the series' reputation of being fast-paced, strong, and a good balanced mix of romance and thriller. Lead character Eve Dallas explores yet another facet of her own personality, her relationship with her husband Roarke, and her relationships with her friends and partners as she works to solve a puzzling and frustrating case. Her theory about cause of death is a fascinating change from her usual seeing is believing attitude and makes for an interesting scene when she has to sell it to the kind of people most likely to have thought of it in the first place but who are reluctant to consider it--probably because they didn't think of it first! There isn't a lot of such favorite characters as Mavis and Nadine in this book, but plenty of Peabody and McNab to make up for it! I initially bought the audio version of this book and since I have listened to it twice since I bought it, I plan to purchase it for my nook as well. I highly recommend this book, and the entire series, for any reader of mystery, thriller, or romance...no matter what format you prefer.
I thought this book did a great job of making the characters seem alive once more. This is the first book in awhile of hers that I read cover to cover without putting down. The plot line is interesting and the characters are smart and funny. I love Eve and Roarke and think that any person reading this and looking for a little romance will love them too. If you regularly read the in Death series by J.D. Robb you may have not liked the last couple books, but this book will make you enjoy them once again. I would highly recommend this book to not only regular readers but for any person looking for a little mystery, a little romance, and a lot of fun!
i of course enjoy this book if u read this series i think u will agree that they are always a pleasure and never disappoint. i just got my nook and am trying to setup a network with people to lend and borrow books with. if ur interested email me firstname.lastname@example.org
When one of the industry's top gamers turns up dead, murdered in gruesome fashion while alone in his one private holodeck, Eve catches the case. No suspects and no holes in the vic's security make finding out who-dun-it a challenge, even for a crack detective and her team.A bit predictable, but still an enjoyable read - at this point, she's gonna solve the case, so read it for the dialogue, the character interaction, and the escape. It's fun if you're in the mood for something light.
Another good murder mystery that Lt Eve Dallas and her team have to solve. This time though I had figured out the method by which the murder victim was killed before I was a third through the book, but what I couldn't figure out was who did it and why.
Fantasy in Death is the latest in J. D. Robb's series of science fiction police procedurals. They're usually pretty decent light reads, but this one was rather disappointing. She uses one of the more unrealistic parts of her world's technology, the holodeck, and breaks one of the cardinal rules of science fiction mysteries by having the killer use a weapon impossible by the upfront rules of the universe. Since the readers get to see part of the murder at the start of the book, watching Eve Dallas flounder around for half the book trying to figure out how-done-it, running around with theories that contradict what the reader knows, is just no fun. At least the who-done-it isn't bad.
I love this series. It is hard to believe that this is book #30. This was an excellent addition to the series. Eve has to solve a locked room mystery where game designer Bart Minnock is found in his locked holo room with his head cut off. Roarke is involved because he knew Minnock and acted as a mentor to him and his partners when they were setting up their business. The book also explores friendship and love and we see both Eve and Roarke growing in each book. The first book was published in 1995 but internal chronology has only about two years passing. It is great to catch up with other secondary characters too. I was glad when Trina put in an appearance. She might be the only person tough, homocide detective Eve actually fears as she comes at her with cosmetics and scissors to trim her hair. I love the humor and the banter in the series.
J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas mysteries are one of my guilty pleasures, and this is one of her best, in my opinion. The mystery is clever, and the relationship between Dallas and Rourke is more low-key, avoiding the melodrama that sometimes slows these novels down. The lower "heat" rating of this book may be a consequence, but I didn't miss the decrease in steamy scenes. Robb keeps things moving along nicely, but I was able to get a good night's sleep in the middle of the book. Good for my health, so I'm happy, but I have to admit I had figured this one out as soon as the death occurred, which cut down on the suspense. I don't know if everyone will know what happened so quickly, but for once we really have much better information to work with than the police and Rourke.
Actually, I was a little disappointed in this outing. Probably because I figured it out so quickly. I figured out who the bad guy was and how he/she did it fairly early on in the book. I've never been able to do that with one of her books before.
I'm constantly amazed that even after 25+ books, Nora Roberts (aka JD Robb) still manages to come up with fresh story lines for these mysteries! In this installment, we have her take on the "locked room" mystery. The victim is killed inside a highly secured room playing a game - so how did the killer get in and out unseen? The series is set in the future, but that is usually low key in terms of the stories themselves. Here, the future setting becomes more prominent as technology is key to the crime. The victim is a game designer, but in the future that means holorooms (just like the holodeck in Star Trek!) and the game he died while playing is critical to Eve's investigation. The last couple of books minimized the roles of the supporting characters a lot. That trend is reversed here. Since technology is front and center, Roarke takes an even bigger role in the action than in previous mysteries and we get more of McNab and Feeney as well. McNab and Peabody even go undercover at a gaming convention! There is a lot of humor, but also some unexpected, but necessary, tension between Eve and Roarke. Their fairy tale marriage could easily become boring, but Robb keeps it real by having them argue, get angry and say hurtful things - then have hot make-up sex. The romance is still a strong factor in the series, but has never overshadowed the mysteries.Overall, another satisfying read and strong entry to the series. I am grateful Nora is so prolific - even twice a year isn't enough for me. Can't wait for the next book!
Although I alwasy enjoy JD Robb books - I enjoyed this one more than her recent books. Not sure exactly why - I think it was the whole hologram part -but I had a hard time putting the book down.
This futuristic mystery/romance series turns seriously science-fictional when the prototype of a holographic videogame turns deadly.This series hasn't lost it, after umpteen books.
Good and fast read. Great as a vacation read.
Awesome book! I love this series!
Fast paced, great characters and storey. Love the dialogues about friendships, partners, love, etc. Cool thinking!