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06 January 2014

J D Robb: Naked in Death

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A start to new kind of crime/romance/futuristic series
In "Naked in Death" J D Robb (aka Nora Roberts) starts an interesting new Eve Dallas mystery series which is a combination of a police crime/thriller with a touch of romance to give it a bit of spice.

Lt. Eve Dallas is a very tough and independent homicide detective who fights for what she believes. Eve is shocked when she was not on time to prevent a man slitting the throat of a young girl. As she is recovering from the shock of killing the perpetrator, she is called urgently to the up-market apartment of a licensed prostitute who has been shot three times with a old handgun in what looks like a sexually motivated killing. The killer leaves a note "One of six"! The case is high priority because the victim is the granddaughter of a very powerful and bombastic Senator.

One of the first suspects is a charming Irish multi-millionaire, Roarke, whose successful business dealings sometimes seem to verge on being shady. While he is a suspect, Eve is immediately attracted to him and her instincts quickly eliminate him from the suspect list - but others don't agree. The killer plays Eve along by leaving video of the killing in her apartment and fulfilling his promise by killing again in a similar way.

Although Eve is a very tough and effective cop she is also personally very vulnerable because of abuse in her early life which she has wiped from her memory. Her work is her life, and she finds it difficult to let Roarke get close to her despite a strong attraction. The first book builds up Eve's strong but vulnerable character and opens the door on the enigmatic, interesting and mega-rich Roarke.

Probably to distance the series from the myriad of other crime thrillers, Robb has set the series in the future - 2058 when your car drives you and flies over traffic jams, there are "auto chefs " in house, car, even your office for beverages and meals, prostitution is strictly licenced with pimps outlawed, and (unbelievably) strict gun control laws are enforced in the US. I really didn't find that the things meant to happen in the next  50 years or so to be plausible or see the reason for basing the stories in a futuristic environment as most of the action (at least in the first book) could just as easily take place in the current day.

This is start of a somewhat different new series and I am of two minds if I will stay the course, especially with the strange futuristic setting. Nevertheless J D Robb, aka Nora Roberts, shows her skills as a storyteller in a different genre to her other popular romance and romantic thrillers and I will probably read the next in the series to see if keeps my attention.

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