J.D. Robb

Concealed in Death

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Concealed in Death Summary

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Concealed in Death (2014), a mystery novel by J.D. Robb, is book number thirty-eight in the In Death series, a collection of mysteries about New York detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas. The first book in the series, Naked in Death, was released in 1995 and subsequent books have come out more or less twice a year since. Several titles in the series have become New York Times bestsellers.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, is demolishing the wall of a building in Hell’s Kitchen that he has plans to rehabilitate. Behind the wall, he finds the skeletons of two girls. Roarke immediately calls Eve, who arrives with her partner, Detective Peabody, and closes down the construction project.

Further investigation reveals the bodies of twelve girls in their early teens. The skeletons have been in the wall for at least fifteen years since that is how long the building has been abandoned. Eve determines that the killer must have had construction skills to build a fake wall to house the bodies.

Peabody researches the history of the building and finds out that it was a halfway house for several years, run by a brother and sister pair, Nashville and Philadelphia Jones. The halfway house is still in operation in a different building. Philadelphia offers to share information and does not seem suspicious. One of the girls at the halfway house also says that she does not believe the Joneses could have committed the crime.

Eve and Peabody visit the forensic team that has completed facial reconstructions for several of the skeletons. The faces match with girls in the missing persons database. One, Shelby Ann Stubacker, jumps out to the team. People who knew Shelby say that she had construction skills and was very familiar with the building. Eve interviews the former handyman at the shelter. He remembers giving Shelby alcohol but denies knowing anything about the murders.

Roarke tells Eve that he plans to turn the remodeled building into another shelter for teens and children. He also reminds Eve that many children who passed through the halfway house went on to build successful lives for themselves. Soon after, a third skeleton is identified. The girl in question had left the halfway house and gone back to her family before being reported missing, which leads Eve to suspect that she was somehow lured back and killed in the building.

The next day, the forensic pathologists have managed to identify a cause of death: all the girls were drowned in a bathtub or sink after being tranquilized. Eve suspects that the murders were ritual in nature. She goes to talk to another former resident of the halfway house who is now a motivational speaker. Lemont Frester tells her that the Jones siblings could not have committed the crimes and, furthermore, he is surprised that the murders happened on their watch since they were always very careful and attentive.

In spite of this, Eve has begun to suspect the Joneses. Knowing that they are very religious, she wonders if the drowning rituals were not meant to be a kind of baptism, or a trial by drowning like those once conducted on accused witches. A major clue comes in the form of information about a third Jones sibling, Montclair, who also helped out at the shelter but was not officially a director. Montclair left the country around the time of the murders and died overseas.

The detectives discover that Shelby and some of her friends hid out in the abandoned halfway house after the other residents moved on, using it as a squat. Since some of Shelby’s old friends are not among the remains, Eve decides to try to track them down. She meets with DeLonna, who tells her that something terrible happened one night in the halfway house but she can’t remember the details.

Philadelphia is called in for a formal interview. She does not give the detectives any new information and Eve does not suspect that she knows anything. When the detectives try to contact Nashville, however, he has disappeared. Eve strongly suspects Nashville of covering up the murders that Montclair committed. More evidence for this theory arrives shortly when a report from the police overseas shows that it was not actually Montclair who died abroad.

After investigating Nashville’s financial records, they discover payments to a mental hospital. Montclair has been committed there. Eve interviews Montclair and his psychiatrist and learns that Nashville caught Montclair attempting to murder DeLonna and rescued her. Thinking that she was Montclair’s first victim, he returned DeLonna to her home and had Montclair committed. Nashville arrives at the asylum shortly after. Having learned about all the other girls his brother murdered, he has come to pick Montclair up so he can take him to New York and turn him in.

Eve conducts an interview with Montclair, who has regressed into a childlike state. He tells her that he murdered Shelby and the others because he was helping them be good and stay home.