Pros: Pure fun!
Cons: If you aren’t familiar with the series, takes a brief time to get your bearings
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Visit Nora Roberts’s website.
Naturally I’ve heard of Nora Roberts (and J.D. Robb, her alter-ego); who hasn’t? I just hadn’t gotten around to reading one of her books before now. When I saw one on sale in the bookstore the other day—Memory in Death—I decided it was time to fix that oversight. I wanted to know what the fuss was about, I suppose you could say.
Memory in Death is a part of J.D. Robb’s ‘in death’ series, a moderately futuristic crime series centered around detective Eve Dallas. Memory takes place in 2059, New York City. Trudy Lombard, a character from Eve’s haunted past, has come to visit her, setting off wretched memories and threatening to undermine the fragile peace of her newly-married life. She isn’t the real threat, however. Eve isn’t the only one with a grudge against her, and someone takes advantage of the timing to exact their own revenge. Despite her personal feelings toward Trudy, Eve’s determined to find the killer, if only to put Trudy’s grieving son at ease (not to mention make sure he didn’t do it).
While I found the identity of the killer to be relatively easy to figure out, I also found it didn’t matter that I’d figured it out. The real mystery wasn’t so much ‘whodunnit’ as ‘howdunnit.’ How was the murder carried out? How was it covered up? And how could it be proven?
I read some mysteries as a child, but I’ve only recently started getting back into them. It fascinates me that they come in such variety, and can be approached from so many different directions. Some mysteries are all about the whodunnit. Some are meant to be heart-pounding suspense or action/adventure novels. J.D. Robb’s series are character-driven stories, if Memory in Death is anything to go by. Rather than being filled with action scenes or gore, this story focused on the people. Most of the details came out through dialogue rather than action.
One of my first thoughts when I started reading Memory in Death was “wow, is this over-the-top.” That was quickly followed however, by, “and it’s perfect!” Roberts/Robb gleefully indulges in everything that makes over-the-top detective novels and mysteries fun, and infuses it with a dollop of romance for good measure. It seems clear that she’s writing for the fun of it and thoroughly enjoying what she’s doing, and as a result her books are equally enjoyable to read. The characters are fun, wacky, and larger-than-life; the mysteries are suitably labyrinthine; the setting is just futuristic enough to allow her to shape her world to her whim without making it alien to the reader.
While it did take me a few minutes to get my bearings in Robb’s world (jumping into the middle of a series is rarely easy), it wasn’t that difficult. While it would obviously be best to read the series in order, I don’t have any qualms about not doing so. Now I can’t wait to read more!