Plot SummaryEdit

Lieutenant Eve Dallas must hunt down the deadly snipers terrorizing Manhattan in this fast-paced In Death thriller from J. D. Robb.

The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice-skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.

Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD but never one like this. A review of the security videos reveals that the victims were killed with a tactical laser rifle fired by a sniper, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the list of locations where the shooter could have set up seems endless, the number of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two—one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil...


Please reference the Blank in Death Map for locations or approximate locations of sites listed here.


Story Date: late January 2061[1] (possibly January 27-30, because Bella's birthday party is the final day – Sunday – and she was born in late January)

Day 1 (Thursday, January 27?)Edit

  • After years of practice, the apprentice makes the first kill. The target and two others. The power is incredible.
  • The newest member of the Homicide Division – Officer Shelby – got a black eye from a chemi-head that afternoon. Lieutenant Eve Dallas hears that she handled it "like a cop" and Shelby brushes off the injury.
  • Dallas and Peabody are summoned to Wollman Rink in Central Park for three dead bodies.
    • First victim: 19-year old Ellissa Wyman, semi-pro ice skater and rink regular, who died from a laser strike in the back.
    • Second victim: 63-year old Brent Michaelson, doctor who was routinely at the rink, killed by a gut-shot from a laser.
    • Third victim: Alan Markum, teacher celebrating his 5-year wedding anniversary with his wife, took a laser strike between the eyes.
    • Multiple people wounded in the chaos. They are treated on-site by a doctor and a veterinarian who had been an Army medic so he recognizes that signs of long-range laser strike and identifies the direction.
  • Peabody takes the follow-ups with witnesses while Dallas does the death notifications.
  • Dallas consults with SWAT Lt. Lowenbaum at the "Dallas Palace" (Roarke's mansion).
    • A military- or police-issue, high-impact, tactical (long-range) laser rifle, on a bipod or tri-pod
    • A sniper with "serious training" who is a LDSK – long-distance serial killer.
    • Lowenbaum also refines the possible location for the sniper's nest.
  • After supper, Eve works and Roarke helps.
    • During a break, they look at redesign possibilities for Eve's home office.

Day 2 (Friday, January 28?)Edit

  • Data from Morris, Peabody, McNab, Berenski, Mira, Feeney, and Commander Jack Whitney.
  • All available detectives from her squad go to work on the case, too.
  • Dallas settles on the second victim – the doctor – as the actual target, with the other two as camouflage.
  • Police locate the sniper's nest: a hotel room, thoroughly sanitized.
    • The desk clerk with a "sharp eye" checked in a man and a bundled-up youth, and works with Detective Yancy on ID sketches.
    • Lowenbaum confirms location and weapon.
    • Dallas has a feeling the snipers – trainer and apprentice – are relatives and aren't finished.
  • In a nest in a flophouse, the apprentice acquires the target and asks for a total of six kills, but the trainer says only four. "Pleased, the apprentice began to do the job."
  • Chaos in Times Square:
    • First victim: Fern Addison, elderly tourist.
    • Second victim: 17-year-old Nathaniel Foster Jarvits was hit mid-back and flipped off his glideboard.
    • Third victim: Officer Kevin Russo is hit in the forehead as he tries to shield the second victim. Dallas thinks he was the target because he had a routine on his beat.
    • Fourth victim: David Chang, advertising executive.
    • Fifth victim: office worker, hit left side (later found to be still alive).
      • The apprentice says, “Five was a compromise.” The trainer lowered the scope, aimed stern disapproval. But pride shone through it.
    • More injuries from falling bodies and panicked people.
  • Yancy and the hotel clerk come up with amazing sketches.
    • The two snipers are clearly related.
    • The older one can be identified from the sketch: Reginald Mackie, age 54, former Army (sniper and sniper trainer), retired last year from the NYPSD (including time in Lowenbaum's Tactical group).
  • Mackie is taking out people he blames for the 2059 death of his new wife Susann, who was pregnant when she ran into the street and was killed by a car. (Later information shows that her death was no fault of anyone but Susann, but Mackie is deeply disturbed and spreads the blame widely.)
    • Mackie has now murdered the obstetrician (Michaelson, second victim at the ice rink) and the responding officer (Russo, third victim at Times Square).
    • The second sniper must be his daughter, Willow/Will Mackie, age 15. Dallas believes the teenagers killed in the sniper attacks were chosen by her: as a serial killer they were "her type".
  • Protective custody on Marta Beck (the obstetrician's office manager); Brian T. Fine (the driver); and Zoe Younger (Will's mother), along with her second husband and their 7-year-old child.
  • NYPSD's top priority it to locate Mackie – "broken and twisted" – and take him down. They also work to identify and protect the Mackies' other targets, both jointly (related to the accident) and Willow on her own (stepfamily, people at her school, others).
  • Dallas leaks information to Nadine Furst (in her new "swank digs"). Dallas wants to warn unidentified targets and to "break" Mackie with incessant media reminders of Susann.
  • The Mackies, in their back-up loft apartment, see the media coverage and go to Plan B.
  • Data from interviews shows that Willow "is a psychopath, trained by an expert in the science of killing" and that Mackie is sick in mind and addicted to funk.
  • At about 2100 hours (9 pm), EDD identifies a townhouse that has been rented by Mackie under a fake name, and they track down false ID for both Mackies.
  • Police mobilize to the townhouse. Mackie turned it into a fortress for a last stand: barricades, deflectors, security cameras outside and in, and counterfeit imaging.
    • After a short battle, Mackie is in custody. He is taken under guard to a hospital.
    • The house contains an arsenal's worth of weapons, but Willow is not there and neither is the laser rifle.
  • Eve and Roarke go home for a few hours of sleep.

Day 3 (Saturday, January 29?)Edit

  • Dispatch awakens them at about 2am: multiple victims at Madison Square Garden, where a Mavis Freestone concert had just let out.
    • Roarke says that Summerset was there with a friend, and they find him outside helping medics tend the wounded.
    • 18 dead and 84 injured. Among the dead is Jonah Rothstein, a lawyer whom Mackie had consulted after Susann was killed. Willow shot Rothstein first, then 17 others "for fun".
    • Everyone backstage is safe – including Mavis, Leonardo, Trina, Nadine, and Summerset's friend Ivanna.
  • Baxter and other police are following Willow's track from Madison Square Garden.
  • After discussing strategy with Mira, Reo, and Lowenbaum, Dallas and Peabody interview Mackie. He rants and shakes and weasels, but confesses to conspiracy to murder and accessory to murder, then gives them details on where Willow might be.
  • Several teams go off to clear the locations given by Mackie, but Dallas peels off on a hunch that Willow has returned to her mother's house so she can lie in wait to kill the family.
    • Nadine distracts Willow with a late-breaking news bulletin.
    • After a hard hand-to-hand fight, Dallas takes Willow down.
  • Dallas, Peabody, and Reo play Willow in interview just as successfully as they played her father.
  • After a press conference to announce the arrests, Eve goes home and sleeps.

Day 4 (Sunday, January 30?)Edit

  • After a full night's sleep, Eve is fully restored by a session with the healing wand, a medicated soak in the tub, coffee, and breakfast.
  • Roarke shocks Eve with her new office and command center. The crew had worked double-shifts while she tracked down the snipers. "Holy shit, holy shit!"
  • That afternoon is Bella's one-year birthday party. Eve and Roarke give Bella an amazing castle-like doll house.
  • Eve is summoned away from the party to Cop Central.
    • Willow fooled a social worker into taking her to the infirmary, where she grabbed a scalpel and assaulted the guards and medic. Fortunately, Officer Shelby was there and stunned her.
    • Willow is transferred to maximum security at Rikers to await trial. Then she'll live in a cage on Omega for the rest of her life.
  • Eve and Roarke return to the party – "the weird and the happy" – to have some birthday cake.

Memorable QuotationsEdit

Dallas, on the design for a new home office:

  • “It’s just that… I like it. I really like it, and I didn’t expect to. The stuff doesn’t look as, I don’t know, fussy in these colors like it does in the in-your-face ones. It looks more… real, I guess. I like it. I figured I’d live with the one I could live with, and that would be okay. But I like it. It’s efficient, it’s not fussy or weird.” Sincerely baffled, she turned to him. “I like it. Jesus, the appreciation sex is going to get out of hand.”[2]

Peabody, on men's love-affair with weapons:

  • [Peabody:] “He [McNab] was totally all about it. What is it with men and weapons?”
  • [Dallas:] “I’m not a man. I like weapons.”
  • “Right. Anyway. He was researching the weapon, or possible weapon, and started doing the math. The math I get, because geek, then you sent over that program Roarke wrote up. It was like Christmas and hot sex and chocolate pudding for him all together. Like having hot sex covered with chocolate pudding on Christmas. Hmm.”
  • “Don’t go there.”
  • “Already did, but saving it for later.”[3]

Chief Tibble, on the sniper's identity as a retired cop:

  • “One moment.” Tibble rose, tall and lean and, under the control, Eve noted, furious. “I’d like to add to Lieutenant Dallas’s statement. Reginald Mackie served the city and its people for twenty years. But he has broken his oath, his faith, his duty. He is responsible for the death of another police officer and six other citizens, one a minor. He has done this for his own purposes, and has disgraced himself, has made his own child an accessory at best, a killer at worst. Knock him down, take him out, bring him in. I would prefer he still be breathing at the end of this operation, but I want no other good cops killed today. Serve and protect, not just the citizenry, but each other.”[4]

Eve, on Roarke's relationship with Summerset:

  • “You were the making of him, that’s what I see.” The stunned look on Roarke’s face had her shaking her head. “He wouldn’t be with you still if that wasn’t the way it is. You say you and I saved each other. Well, before I came along, the two of you did the same. Another way, another path, but just as true. You gave him purpose, and you gave him a son.”[5]

Dallas, on how to eat a chocolate bar:

  • “Eat the damn thing, don’t mouse-nibble it to death.”[6]

Character ListEdit

List of Main Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

List of Secondary Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

List of Recurring Characters Appearing in this BookEdit

Footnotes Edit

  1. Apprentice in Death, p. 1.
  2. Apprentice in Death (ISBN 978-1101987995), pp. 43-44.
  3. Apprentice in Death (ISBN 978-1101987995), p. 60.
  4. Apprentice in Death (ISBN 978-1101987995), p. 127.
  5. Apprentice in Death, Chapter 15.
  6. Apprentice in Death, Chapter 20.
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