Wonderment in Death description/discussion

ddtrh coverI usually let everyone else chime in about books but last weekend I had a chance to read “Wonderment in Death” — the In Death novella in Down the Rabbit Hole — and in my opinion it’s a particular standout among the 11 novellas under JD’s belt.

The official description for the anthology?

You’re late for a very important date…
Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head. 

Don’t be afraid to follow them…

Since it’s short and efficient (and marvelous) storytelling there actually isn’t a real teaser to give that won’t potentially spoil the “Wonderment in Death” story.  So I’ll set this page up for the discussion now.

It’s in stores on September 29.






In Death World

It’s always gratifying to know how excited readers are when a new In Death book comes out. I’m so grateful for the loyalty of the readership, and hope–every time–those readers will enjoy the book. 

I understand some will enjoy any given book more than another. Some will be delighted with it, others a little disappointed. Or completely dissatisfied.
That’s the individuality of reading.
However. Every time a new book in this series comes out, I get numerous–NUMEROUS–comments of this variety:
I loved the book. Just gobbled it up. It was so good. But, there wasn’t enough (name that recurring character). I really felt something was missing. I really wish you’d have made more time for (name that recurring character or those recurring characters).
Okay, while in real time there’s about a six-month wait between books–I have to write them–in book time days have passed, maybe a week or two. Do you see all your pals on a daily basis? I suspect most of us aren’t like the cast of How I Met Your Mother, having drinks and adventures together pretty much every day.
If I made room in the story, every story, for everyone’s favorite recurring character, the story would revolve around them, not around the life and times of a murder cop (hello, murder cop) investigating, and interacting with Roarke, her partner, and whoever among those recurring characters has something to do/say/add to that specific storyline.
It’s one thing to be dissatisfied with the story itself, the writing, but to complain–again and again–because there wasn’t enough Feeney, or there was no Mavis, or why can’t this new character come back and join the NYPSD–when Deputy Banner has a life and career of his own in Arkansas (which I thought was illustrated pretty well in the storyline).
Another refrain, oft-sung: Nadine should find the love of her life.
No, says the creator, she shouldn’t. If and when she does, it’s because she’s ready, I’m ready, and the story calls for it.
Morris should find a new love.
No, he shouldn’t. He’s still grieving, and he’s not looking for a new love. When and if he does, (and for me that’s clearly if, not when) it will NOT be DeWinter. Which again, I think has been illustrated pretty clearly.
There should be more babies, more weddings, more people should hook up–either casually or for true love.
This is not what I’m writing or want to write in this series. Murder cop, investigating. Murder cop and her former criminal husband learning how to deal with marriage. Murder cop learning how to evolve and deal with friendships. But murder cop is the key. Outside romances are not.
I felt maybe I needed to address the simple fact that for the reader who is looking, primarily, for storylines that include everyone who walks through the books–occasionally or more regularly–and/or having those characters fall in love, get married, have babies, and so on, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Is it possible another recurring character will enter a relationship? Of course. But we already have several who have. And for now, that’s more than enough for this series, its direction and its core.
It’s certainly flattering to create a character like Will Banner and have readers relate so strongly to him. But that doesn’t mean this character will suddenly relocate to NY, and Eve will snap her fingers and place him in her squad. I have to think of the big picture, and the big picture reads, to me–that would be out of character for Banner, and unrealistic for Eve.
I appreciate the readers’ investment in the series. It’s a lot of books, over a lot of time. I assure you, I give each book–and where it might take the next–a lot of thought. I give the plot, the story arc, the characters a lot of thought. If some of those characters don’t weave through a particular book, it’s because they were busy doing something else off page. Because they weren’t needed.
While I really want you to enjoy each book, and the series as a whole, I can only write them as makes sense to me, and in a way I feel stays true to the characters.
A respectful PS from Laura:  Though Nora Roberts does not write as long running a series as JD Robb, a lot of the above should be applied.  Trilogies end because the story/quest is finished as Nora envisioned it and another set of characters await.  As for characters who stand out — Forrest in The Liar, Aubrey in the Quinn books, Mrs. G in the Bride Quartet come to mind — they are supporting players in the cast and there are no plans for separate books.  I like to say we’ve trusted Nora/JD this far so let’s see where she takes us next.

Montana! Photos

Nora, Bruce, Jason and Kat sent photos from Montana daily, giving me the difficult task of choosing what to use to illustrate Nora’s travelogues. Some fun, gorgeous photos didn’t make the cut, so I thought I’d share in a post for your enjoyment.

As many guessed, but I refused to make public because it was vacation, they stayed at The Resort at Paw’s Up.

I’ve got an inkling as to where the 2016 vacation will be, but we’ll have to wait awhile for those.  Good thing we have releases and Nora’s take on the fall, the holidays and her favorite season (HA!) winter before then to keep us going.  ~Laura

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Firing her up - photo by BW
Firing her up – photo by BW
At work in the basket - photo by BW
At work in the basket – photo by BW
Mist over the land - photo by BW
Mist over the land – photo by BW
From BW and Kat's trip to Ovando.
From BW and Kat’s trip to Ovando.
Set up for prank call - photo by ja-b
Set up for prank call – photo by ja-b
Kat and Jason and a view
Kat and Jason and a view
Just around the riverbend - photo by ja-b
Just around the riverbend – photo by ja-b
Every evening's activity: capturing sunset - photo by Ja-b
Every evening’s activity: capturing sunset – photo by Ja-b
I always knew you were ewoks (Laura's comment to Jason)
I always knew you were ewoks (Laura’s comment to Jason)

Montana! Day 15

We had our last best day, perfect from start to finish.

We start on the hilltop of Spa Town and yoga on a crystal clear morning. My loft workout was good, and necessary, but following it with hilltop yoga can’t be beat. Our instructor is Cat, who’s fairly new to yoga herself–about six months in–and her love and enthusiasm for it adds an element of charm to a lovely practice.

BW decrees an early for us lunch. It’s just too beautiful a day not to take advantage so Jason and I walk, Kat bikes, and BW drives the car around as we have plans to drive to the river later. We spot a couple of hawks circling, higher and higher, just gliding up in the air. They’d called out–that amazing sound–but now just circle in silence.

Hawk - photo by jab
Hawk – photo by jab

Before long, they’re joined by another, then two more. Five hawks gliding, circling, up high, slowly down. I think as one is considerably smaller, this may be a lesson. But I’m sure I’ve never seen five hawks dancing together before, and it’s something to witness.

We have our last lunch on the porch, all sunlight, warm, impossible views, happy service. Apparently we’ve broken the record for length of stay. Sweet! The owner’s dog–Fenway as he’s a Red Sox fan–wanders around. A beautiful Bovier (SP?), who’s obviously quite at home.

Then we stage our annual family panoramic shot in the little sports/game area. Jason’s been eyeing that spot for this purpose, and he and Kat have a plan. Work out the details, and BAM, one take! We are so very cool!

The annual family panorama
The annual family panorama

We drive off, head for the river as BW wants photos. It’s a gorgeous day for it. We pull off at one point, walk along looking for a reasonably safe way down. The land is rough, rocky, steep, but we manage. It’s so worth it–though I spot some scat I think might have been left by a bear. A beautiful stretch of river, water humming over rocks, sun sparkling. BW’s hauled his tripod, and does his thing. Kat and Jason have hauled their long lens, and do theirs. I sit on a big rock, take a few shots with my phone and just enjoy.

BW wants a family shot, resets, fiddles with the timer–realizes he won’t make it and hams for his camera. Reset–closer—try again. Decide to set again from a different angle, and ta-da, we have it.

The riverside family portrait - photo by BW
The riverside family portrait – photo by BW

Now it’s climb up, and that’s interesting, but no mishaps. We decide to drive on to River Camp, do some more photos from and around that rocky beach. Fine with me, as there’s another big rock for sitting. Jason and BW wade right through the water to the little grassy island where Jason climbs on top of a big-ass rock and BW sets his tripod and camera.

Down the river - photo by jab
Down the river – photo by ja-b
The girls on the other side - photo by ja-b
The girls on the other side – photo by ja-b
Over the river - photo by NIR
Over the river – photo by NIR
River rocks - photo by ja-b
River rocks – photo by ja-b
Wildlife - photo by ja-b
Wildlife – photo by ja-b
Photo by ja-b
Photo by ja-b

There’s apparently a guy working in the kitchen, but otherwise, it’s just us, the river and the sky. A pretty great way to spend an hour.

Back home to take a breather before our big Chuck Wagon night. Spot a young buck and a doe enjoying the shade near our cabin. Kat believes they’re on a date. I must agree.

Dress in layers. It’s warm now, but when the sun goes down, it’ll be a different story. A van takes us and another group of four to a little dirt road where the chuck wagon waits. Our cowboy greets us, introduces us to his two dogs–Chevy a Border Collie and Maddy an Australian Shepherd (with amazing blue eyes). Our big, beautiful horses are Lightning and Strike. Maddy hops up to sit with our cowboy and his wife (also the driver), we climb into the back, and off we go.

The big horses trot along the bumpy road. It’s a fun experience for us, but as our driver points out, this wagon has rubber wheels. I imagine bumping along on the way west would’ve been a different experience.

Cowboy at the Chuck Wagon -- photo by BW
Cowboy at the Chuck Wagon — photo by BW

The camp’s set up on another beautiful spot by the river. Huge grills, a big camp fire (as some restrictions have been lifted), picnic tables, a bar, and entertainment in the form of banjo and ukelele. Time for wine, and a wander. I have to tell BW he wants to check out this bend of the river, as it’s just lovely.

A phrase said before many interesting things - photo by BW
A phrase said before many interesting things – photo by BW

The dogs wander, too, enjoy the attention.

The food is far, far superior to what cowboys would’ve chowed down on a trail ride. Crisp, fresh salads, mouth-watering ribs (the scent of them cooking has already decided my choice) grilled chicken, potatoes, beans, and Tomahawk steaks. We eat more than our fill in the shade with the dogs hopeful for a scrap. This is followed by stupendous berry cobbler, and S’Mores.

Tomahawk steaks on the grill - photo by BW
Tomahawk steaks on the grill – photo by BW

During dessert, where we gather around the camp fire, we’re treated to music and cowboy poetry. So charming, so interesting. Lovely to sit, a fire crackling, the light turning soft, and hear poetry and music born in this part of the world.

On the ride back, the sun sets, blurring the horizon with pink.

Back home, start packing, and hope somehow everything will fit.

Those of you who said backpack or baby carrier on yesterday’s mystery, we think you’re correct. BW actually has his father’s ancient backpack, and says this is the frame for it. And it certainly looks like something you might’ve carried a baby in.

Thanks for playing!

This morning, a last, lovely sunrise, then packing. BW and Kat head out for breakfast, then we’ll haul our bags and bodies out of our cabin, our pretty two-week home– and head to the airport.

We wanted to do something completely different this year. We succeeded, and spent two weeks experiencing the wilds and the wonders of Montana. I doubt it’s our last visit, but it’s certainly been the best.



Montana! Day 14

Our time in Montana winds down with beautiful weather, a sky so clear we can see the far peaks of the wilderness. We have leftovers for lunch, sliding lazily into the day. BW and I have a date with Spa Town.

Spa town
Spa town

I take Natalia’s advice and go for The Last Best Massage. It surely was. 90 minutes of wonderful with the breeze flowing through the tent. I hear a hawk cry while I’m blissing on the heated table. I’ve loved every treatment here, but no doubt this is the last and the best.

BW looks just as limp and happy as I feel as we all but ooze back home.

Kat and Jason have gone on a walk to visit the horses. I may have to do that myself today.

20150909_115131On that particular walk we always see flocks of bright blue birds I think we’ve ID’d as Blue Swallows. Small, quick and sharply blue. In the last few days another type of bird visited our cabin. Blue and black, a jay-like head. Thanks to Google, we know we’re seeing the Western Jay. They like the pine right in front of the front porch, and sometimes hang with the rabbits outside the bedroom window.

No bear sighting, but we’re told he’s still around.

I spend some time in the front porch rocker, taking in the endless view, the busy jays, the warm, clear air.

We head out for our last dinner at the restaurant as we’ve a Chuck Wagon dinner booked tonight. It’s quiet in the restaurant as kids are back in school. No weekday family vacations now. Lovely food as always.

But the star of the evening is the sunset. Kat and I go out as we spot the first blushes of color. We wander over to the grassy section where you can play horseshoes or tether ball. It’s lovely, I think, almost a watercolor sky with pastel pinks and lavenders in soft strokes over the deepening blue canvas.photo (57) photo (58)

Then we turn around. Oh, it’s all drama and whirls and rich strokes of color. Beyond stunning with reds, purples, swirls of luminous gold, rich grays, hot pinks. Kat texts to bring the guys out as this is not to be missed.

We take dozens of pictures. Wherever you look it’s glory as the sky sings with beauty, and the land goes deep into shadow. We deem it The Last Best Sunset. I’ve never seen the like of it.

We have so many memories and mind pictures to take home tomorrow, but this crazed technicolor sunset will rank up there with the red moon, the black bear, and the snow-tipped peaks as treasures from Montana for me.

There’s an amazing sensation of being human, and privileged when standing under such an endless, miraculous sky.


I hope the photos convey a fraction of it.

The inside of an oil lamp was indeed the answer to yesterday’s mystery photo. You guys are smart!

Let’s see if you can guess what this is.

photo (59)Nora

Montana! Day 13

A gorgeous day to experience some never-done-befores.

While it starts off downright cold, with that marvelously spooky mist, my gang heads out early for their hot air balloon ride. I putter a bit, then go up to the loft for my workout. I’m nearly halfway through the cardio section when I hear my cellphone signal.

First thought, ignore that. But hard on the heels is my gang is somewhere in that big sky in a balloon! Did they crash? Are the winds taking them to Canada? Do I need to mount a rescue?

Pause DVD, run down, see missed call from BW. Call back.

I hear him, static, wind. He tells me to go outside, he thinks I can see them. Go out, look left. So in my yoga tank, bare feet and knee-length workout capris, out I go. It’s COLD! I look, I look, see nothing. Run back in for my jacket, run out again, talking to him as I search the sky.

Nora's view of the balloon.
Nora’s view of the balloon.

And there it is! That strange and colorful balloon hanging in the sky over the hills. Run back for my boots so I can walk up the road to a rise and maybe see better. I must’ve looked pretty odd, boots, capris, leather jacket, but it’s just me and the squirrels. I watch for quite a while–it’s some warmer in the sun, and it’s just fascinating. That boldly colored, lightbulbed shaped balloon hangs, glides, and through the quiet, I can hear the whoosh when the pilot gives it gas. I climb higher and can watch it slowly descend.

Walk back, shed boots and jacket, finish the workout. Shortly after, the adventurers return with their certificates–they’d ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’–and lots of pictures, videos and excitement. They’d loved every minute, rising up through the mist, holding there, then climbing over it. The pilot glided them into the clear, over hills and the river, and wide fields.

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A two-hour flight.

While my system couldn’t have taken those heights, I love seeing the photos.

We have another trail ride, so opt to have lunch first. After some deliberation I go for the burger. I believe I’ve eaten more red meat in these two weeks than I normally do in a year. But the burgers are exceptional.

Head over to the wilderness center where Tanner has done some considerable research on our question about the greenish rocks—boulders to pebbles–around the area. He’s gone above and beyond, finding sites, basically writing a little term paper. So sweet!

Rachel’s our wrangler today, though Becca and Brie are around to help. I’m once more with CJ, Jason with the clever Cherokee, BW on–I assumed an incorrect spelling as it’s Coaly (coal black), and Kat’s got a new mount in a pretty paint called Apache.

Rachel – photo by Kat

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I know CJ likes to bring up the rear, poke a bit, and I’m fine with that. Especially since I also know he’ll break into that bright, pretty trot for me if I give him enough room. It’s turned into a wonderful afternoon. I could’ve ditched the jacket, but I’d rather be on the warm side than cold. The sky’s brilliantly blue, and CJ’s meandering so I can sightsee as we walk the trail over the road, into the trees, and up. He likes to trot up the hills, I guess to get it over with. On a flat stretch Rachel asks if we’d like a trot, and we would. CJ’s up for it, and in fact moves into a canter for a few seconds before we have to ease up.

We ride through the pines, through the sun and shade, and Rachel points to the right.

Bear! by BW
Bear! by BW

There, sitting under a tree, is a bear. It just sits, watching us watch him. We’d all talked about how we’d like to see a bear–would rather see one on the back of a horse than walking on our own. And there he is!

The horses are unimpressed, but we tenderfoots are delighted. Rachel points out the black bear aren’t really aggressive–something I know from home where just west of me they’re often sighted–but if any come close, we’re to make a lot of noise.

No need as the bear just sits and watches us ride past. You can all but hear him thinking: Just keep moving. Nothing to see here.

I get more trots, light ones, fast ones, enjoy it all, including the warmer air and the sun.

We come around, ride by cabins—in fact very near our own–when Rachel points again. The bear, surely the same one, is now roaming around. He’s taking his time, and it’s cooler yet to watch him lumber, and realize he’s not in an enclosure, but as free as we are.

And apparently close enough to the cabins, and moving in the direction of spa town, that Rachel calls it in, just in case. We ride past the white tents of spa town, and one of the staff comes out, lets Rachel know she got the call. They’ll keep an eye out.

Back to the paddock, where seconds after I dismount, CJ closes his eyes and takes a little nap. We spend some time with the horses and the wranglers. While I stroke Coaly’s cheek he takes some keen interest in my scarf. Not to eat, I tell him, but he’d like a nibble. So would Cherokee. Something about that peach-colored scarf interests the horses, so they sniff at it in turn. We’re told one of the other horses tried to eat Brie’s straw hat off her head that morning.

Home again, and BW and I sit out in the sun, have a drink. We’ve had smoke-filled skies, clear ones, snow on the mountains and hot, bright sun. Every one a wonderful experience in its way.

We end with a lovely dinner where BW finally tries the kangaroo. He decides he prefers cow meat. But among us, we’ve had the roo, yak, ostrich, squid pasta and plenty of other exotic to us food.

The cheesecake that concluded Nora's Tuesday dinner.
Nora’s fabulous cheesecake.

Before bed we see the stars, and I wake to a beautiful sunrise of red and pink streaking deep blue over the mountains. A glimmer of gold on the edges, and a thick ground fog on the pastures. As I step out, I hear the elk bugle. We’ve been told to listen for it, but today’s the first time I hear them. Can’t see them as the mist is thick, but I hear them call.

It’s marvelous.

Now the sun’s high and bright, and the sky blue. We’ll see what we see today.

Those who said Denver–though I do think that quarter came out of my purse!–on yesterday’s question are correct. My sister-in-law asked we check our change for coins minted in Denver or San Francisco. We didn’t come up with any S coins, but did mine a few Ds.

And today’s mystery is by Kat. Can you figure out what this is?

photo 3 (12)


Devoted in Death teasers

devoted coverOne week until release day in the US and Canada (nine days in the UK, Ireland, SA, AUS and NZ).

As has become habit over the last few releases, I’ll post one teaser a day until Friday.  These will not spoil the mystery or give away huge plot points — instead they are things to look for when you devour the newest addition to the In Death series.

Please scroll down for the teasers.  Laura

September 8:

A Peabody teaser!  Early on she dares fate when  she corrects Eve. And we get  a little glimpse of the recent Christmas with Peabody’s family.

September 9:

Will Eve acquiesce when coffee is forbidden?  Will she learn alternate ways of dealing with stress?  Stay tuned!

September 10:

What does Roarke need to be the richest man in the world?  And why would he need to add an entry in the Marriage Rules?

September 11:

Time confounds Eve on many levels.  And in a squad update, look for some fish out of water.

Montana! Day 12

Still cool after my workout, but I finally decide to try that walk. It’s good to be out in the air for a bit. Though when I look up? Clouds Angry!! I’m sure this will bring more rain, but apparently the angry clouds stormed away elsewhere.

I walk one way, then wander back and walk the other to watch one of the cattle drives, and yes, can still spot just a touch of snow on one of the far peaks. Summer appears to be done here–though reports from home say we’ll go back to it on our return.

BW and Kat come home so I walk back to the cabin, and a nice fire to spend most of the afternoon just lazing, finishing another book someone else slaved over.

tic tac toe - photo by NR
tic tac toe – photo by NR

Amazing really how someone who structures her day pretty tightly can embrace the doing of little to nothing when out of the box. I couldn’t live this way, but it’s sure nice to have the chance to for a short time.

The gang at dinner.
The gang at dinner.

We’re doing another camp dinner, so pull ourselves together and drive out. A young deer watches us go by. We’re just above the river here, and it’s wider and stronger running below this higher ground. The dinner tent offers a big fireplace cracking with logs, and a generous sitting area in front of it. We’re told the guest tents at the camp are broken down every winter, their furnishings stored. That’s a job and a half.

The dining tent - photo by NR
The dining tent – photo by NR

Between courses I wander out, see the setting sun blushing the sky through the pines while the river runs strong. So pretty and peaceful. For dinner I have my first buffalo experience with meatballs the size of a toddler’s fist in a nice pasta marinara. Absolutely delicious. I can only manage one, it’s a big ball ‘o meat, but it’s terrific. So I’m only able to sample the grilled chicken on the table. Also excellent. We polish this off with a little chocolate and carmel parfait with pecans–as Kat calls it a deconstructed turtle.

We toyed with some Wii Bowling up in the loft, but just too much food, and my guys have to be up early for their hot air balloon ride.

This morning, a heavy mist blankets the fields and pastures while the sun rises. It’s like looking out at a smoky ocean, all pale and gray, with the horses swimming through it.

This morning - photo by NR
This morning – photo by NR

I expected it to burn off quickly, and for those touches of first frost to melt away. But just now the world is trapped in that soft gray mist where nothing moves and the air is absolutely silent.  I can just see the edges of the mountains sleeping behind the curtain.

I hope the ballooners are sailing over some clear. And do expect this to lift long before our afternoon trail ride.

On yesterday’s foodie-oriented question, those of you who guessed garlic scape earn the golden apron. I’m not sure if bolt are ramp are the same, but imagine so.

Today, how about this? Do you know where this coin came from?

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Today’s mystery – photo by Kat


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