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Friday, December 23, 2011

'Naked in Death' In Death #1 by J.D. Robb

From the BLURB:

It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion.

When a senator's daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she'd been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washing-ton politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve's growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome... and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas should be on leave. Having just tied up a case that resulted in the death of a child, and Eve shooting the murderer, all she needs now is rest and recuperation. But there’s no such luck for Lieutenant Dallas when a high-profile politician’s granddaughter is murdered. The case is complicated by Sharon DeBlass’s profession – high-class escort – and a note left beneath the body promising ‘ONE OF SIX’.

The case is made all the more baffling for the murder weapon used – an old-fashioned Smith & Wesson gun; an archaic museum piece since the gun-ban was initiated, but also a vital clue since only the wealthiest of collector’s can now afford such a relic.

Eve’s investigations lead her to Rourke, an Irish-born millionaire living in New York who had close ties to Ms DeBlass’s family and an interest in bygone weaponry. But upon meeting the dark-haired, whiskey-tongued Roarke, Eve is convinced he’s no murderer. Or at least, she hopes he’s not – otherwise this attraction and fevered wanting she feels would be a problem for both of them …

‘Naked in Death’ is the first book in Nora Robert’s (writing as JD Robb) ‘In Death’ romantic crime-thriller series, which began in 1995. The series is currently thirty-three books deep, with a 34th book scheduled for 2012, and it’s entirely likely that the series will continue well beyond that …

I really didn’t want to like this book. Oh, sure, I’d had this series recommended to me time and time again and was assured that I’d love them. People would utter the name ‘Roarke’ with almost biblical reverence and be positively horrified if I dared admit to never having read a single one of JD Robb’s books. But still, I really didn’t want to like this book, because liking this book would mean reading the series. A series that, as of 2012, will have 34 books to its credit. I knew if I read one and got hooked, I’d have to read them all (and my to-be-read pile is toppling as is!). So, like I said, I really didn’t want to like this book … but damned if Roarke & Robb didn’t reel me in, hook, line and sinker.

Robb’s ‘In Death’ series is set in the future, in the year 2058. Inter-planetary travel is now possible, food is delivered by AutoChef, books come on discs (paperbacks are now viewed in museums), guns have been banned for a number of years and prostitution is legalized and regulated. These are just a few of the subtle futuristic scene-setters that are casually dropped throughout the book, and I quite liked that the sci-fi aspect was very low-key. Robb doesn’t pull focus to the futuristic setting so much as she integrates it into the story, which I was pleased about since the future-setting had me a little irked when I read it in the blurb. I’m still not 100% sure why the book had to be set in the future, except that things like the antiquity of the murder weapon (a standard issue Smith & Wesson) and legalized prostitution leaked into the murder investigation and put an interesting spin on the crime.

The real draw-card of the book (and I suppose, the series) is the characters of Eve and Roarke. Eve Dallas is a tough cop with a black past. On paper she sounds like a stereotype, but Robb has written Eve with many sides. She’s stubborn and perceptive, tough but feminine. She’s very much a lone wolf, but with inner scars that have her yearning for company and understanding. I liked Eve instantly; when we meet her she’s coming off the tail-end of a child murder which resulted in Eve killing a deranged criminal. She’s in a very fragile state of mind, but the instant she sees Sharon DeBlass’s butchered body, she’s on board this new murder investigation and wholly committed. I liked that she was so dedicated to the dead – Eve really sees this job as showing respect to those victims, and getting them justice in death.

Because of Eve’s rather fragile psyche when the book begins, she is utterly railroaded by murder suspect Roarke. Just ‘Roarke’ – a millionaire enigma with a criminal past but high-society presence. Roarke is painfully handsome, with an Irish lilt and a sharp mind. As much as Eve is amazed at her instant attraction to Roarke, he is even more shocked at his fascination with her. As Roarke admits, he doesn’t have much love for cops, but Eve with her awful shag haircut, whisky hair and sorrowful eyes has him lulled and lustful.

“I want to see you again." He stopped, took her face in his hands. "I need to see you again."
Her pulse jumped, as if it had nothing to do with the rest of her. "Roarke, what's going on here?"
"Lieutenant." He leaned forward, touched his lips to hers. "Indications are we're having a romance.”


As promised, Roarke is incredible. Even better is his and Eve’s instant attraction and coupling. This is, obviously, one of the reasons Robb’s series is so beloved. Unlike practically every other crime series with a dash of romance, Robb’s will-they-or-won’t-they is put to bed early on, instantaneous and highly flammable. The real interest of the series will come from how Eve and Roarke will cope with their sudden and unexpected presence in each others lives.

I know that Nora Roberts’s forte is romance – as evidenced by the dark and dashing Roarke, and his simmering romance with Eve. So I wasn’t overly shocked or too disappointed to read that the criminal side of things in ‘Naked in Death’ aren’t quite on par with other crime books. The ‘whodunit’ mystery is wrapped up in a fairly obvious, if disturbing way. Eve’s investigation is more paint-by-numbers than harrowing thriller. Fair enough, I wasn’t expecting Karin Slaughter-levels of criminality. Clearly the focus of the ‘In Death’ series is the romance between Eve and Roarke, it’s crime-lite romance-centric, and since I knew that going in, I wasn’t baffled or annoyed by the lack.

4/5


5 comments:

  1. I only read the first of these about a year ago and I enjoyed it but I do find the prospect of sourcing 30+ of them somewhat exhausting. Especially as my local library has titles missing, which means I also have to request some in on ILL. I think I've read 3 - need to get around to tracking down the next couple.

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  2. I read this book and enjoyed it. Then I picked up the second book and DNF'd it. I don't know why - it's not that it was bad... I just couldn't get into it :(

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  3. Roarke *sigh* I haven't read any of the books since 2008, and I'm about 12-14 books behind which feels me with dread, I keep trying to read J.D.Robb from the beginning but it's such an enormous task I'm easily giving up half-way :) These two are explosive together and one of my favorite couples of all time. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series when and if you continue reading along. *wink*

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  4. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! 34 books? really?

    I have seen this series around in forever, it has been pubbed in brazil years ago and going strong and I had never thought of reading it...

    but your review killed me!

    I love that the romance starts right off book one! That is a big seller for me right now cause I CANNOT deal with the will-they-wont-thwy crap lately and the PNR romance deal is getting tiring LOL

    Thanks for a great review! will have to read book 1 now! LOL

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  5. @Larissa - believe me, I KNOW! I was reading that first book just hoping and praying that I'd hate it because 34 books is ... woah. I mean, WOAH! Now come and join me in the madness :)

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