Pros: Pure fun! Dramatic; larger-than-life characters
Cons: Will be too melodramatic for some; some awkward point-of-view changes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Not that long ago I read & reviewed Memory in Death, one of the later ‘in death’ books by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. It was my first exposure to the series, and I definitely enjoyed its over-the-top futuristic detective-novel and erotic romance setting. As it turned out, a friend of mine has the entire series and was more than happy to start loaning me the rest of the books (and I was more than happy to take her up on her offer!).
By and large I tend not to start reading long series like the ‘in death’ books. In part, it’s hard for me to invest that much effort in keeping up with a set of characters and with the publication schedule of so many books. I also tend to worry that I’ll eventually become bored with a setting, or that the books will become so formulaic that I won’t enjoy reading them any more. While I don’t yet have the experience with the series to speak to that, I can say that I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far enough to make it worth taking the chance on the series.
Our series begins in the future—the 2050s to be precise, when cops carry laser guns, computers respond to voice commands and control everything from the AutoChef to the shower, and yes, cars finally fly. It’s a setting I think of as ‘science fantasy,’ where technology rules, but it’s a slick sort of technology meant merely to serve as a convenient backdrop for our story.
Eve Dallas is a tough, ambitious cop determined to find justice for the dead. Right now, that means finding the killer of a high-priced ‘licensed companion’ with a high-profile political family, despite the interference of everyone from the dead woman’s powerful grandfather to the chief of police. She’s running out of time, however, because the killer has promised that this is only the first of six murders, and he’s resourceful, cunning, and all-too-focused on Eve as the primary investigator.
Complicating Eve’s investigation is the mysterious Roarke, a charismatic and fabulously wealthy businessman who also takes an intense interest in her, and Eve’s own past, which seems indelibly tangled in the events surrounding her.
Robb is unapologetically melodramatic in this series, and it works. She mixes together the stylishness of an over-the-top detective novel with the slickness of science fantasy and the heat of a good erotic romance, and blends it all into a heady cocktail of excitement, emotion, and anticipation. There are a few awkward point-of-view switches here and there, but the pace is quick enough to drag you past them.
The mystery itself is enjoyable; I thought I had guessed the killer’s identity by the middle of the book, but I wasn’t sure, and there was enough detail and uncertainty left to be explored that this in no way lessened the adrenaline or the page-turning tension. If you enjoy the sparks-flying heat of a good passionate romance (with a couple of fun, emotional sex scenes), there’s definitely some of that in here as Eve and Roarke—both headstrong, independent people—clash and dance around each other in delightful ways. The setting isn’t the focus of the book, but it certainly adds to the slick stylishness of it all, and again contributes to the pure, simple fun of the series.
The bloodiness of the killings and the explicitness of the sex scenes definitely makes this a series for adults, but that’s probably obvious. While I’ve found so far that the books in this series stand alone surprisingly well, it’s obviously more fun to take them in order so you can follow the developing relationships of the characters. If you haven’t experienced this series yet and are tempted to give it a shot, do try to track down a copy of Naked in Death—it makes a fantastic introduction!