Sunday, February 17, 2013

Naked In Death by J.D. Robb

My Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

Amazon Rating: 4.40 / 5.00
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 / 5.00

A senator’s granddaughter is killed and Eve Dallas, a New York City Detective, must find the killer. Although it is 2058, technology is not the only way to solve a crime, especially when it involves an impressively organized killer and the political ramifications of uncovering the victim’s secret life as a prostitute. Whilst fighting the Senator’s attempts to steer her investigation, she has to place herself in the mind of a man who hates women and has seemingly unlimited resources at his disposal. Further complicating the situation is the prime suspect, an Irish billionaire called Roarke, who has a shady past but is irresistibly attractive.   

This is the first in the massive In Death series, which will reach title number 37 later this year. Having said that, it reads perfectly well as a stand-alone title, leaving no loose ends dangling or an unwelcome cliffhanger that propels you on to the next installment, which is always welcome in the first title in a series. However, I am not sure that I felt much need to read further into the series, which was a little disappointing as I had expected a strong desire to continue exploring this slightly futuristic world.

The setting is sufficiently distant as to allow for some neat technological advances. Guns have been completely banned, which is a very interesting commentary on modern US culture all in itself, with our heroine haunted by her decision to set her laser to kill a man who had murdered his own daughter rather than simply stunning him. As a Brit living in the US, I was very happy to see this conscious move away from the gun-dependency that often seems to define what it means to be American. The fact that the murder weapon is actually a handgun, which in this time period is a collector’s item, allows some interesting debate about guns and their use as killing weapons, and about how they make their users feel. I do not know where Ms Robb stands on the gun debate, but this book certainly had some intriguing questions to pose about gun usage that were rather refreshing.

We are also shown a society where prostitution has been legalized and is now much less stigmatized than at present. It is still not something that a senator wants his granddaughter to be doing, especially when he takes a right wing, anti-prostitution moral stance. I liked the variety of ‘companions’ that we met: they came from different backgrounds and chose their profession for a variety of reasons. This non-judgmental portrayal of prostitution was a nice change and, although it is fairly stereotypical to use them as victims, they were given a great deal of dignity and were not the usual ‘easy’ prey items that were are often shown. These were real people who could not be seen as disposable or in any way deserving of their terrible fates.

Our heroine, Eve, is a tough woman, but we were not shown her doing the typical ‘struggling in a man’s world’ stuff. However, poor Eve has enough emotional baggage from her childhood to make up for anything that her present life can throw at her. Unfortunately, this presented me with my biggest hurdle to liking this book: the romance with Roarke. I am not a huge fan of the Romance genre, so I will often be disappointed when there is, to my mind, too much romance in a story that would be perfectly interesting without it. In this case, the romance is a massive misstep, in my opinion, and weakens the characterization of Eve to almost breaking point.

At first we are presented with Eve as a tough, independent woman, but as soon as she meets Roarke she starts to trust him for no particularly good reason. Whilst I can understand her unwilling attraction to the man, I find it very difficult to accept her having sex with him so early in their relationship. This is just too ‘Romance’ for me. As she becomes increasingly aware of her abused past, it boggles my mind that she would chose to have sex with any man, let alone one that she hardly knows and who could be a vicious serial killer. This seems to play far too much into the ‘emotion over logic’, ‘your heart knows the truth’ stuff that makes my head ache when I read Romances. It was also accompanied by Roarke being all alpha male and protective, which should have had Eve revolting at his patronizing decisions to ‘help’ her: she is a strong, intelligent, gifted detective so she does not need her boyfriend to solve the case for her! It is not that I disliked Roarke, but I would have been far more interested in their relationship if they had had to deal with her inability to trust men. I wanted to see her slowly learn to let Roarke within her emotional perimeter, but their relationship seemed far too rushed to me and this undermined my enjoyment of the crime aspect of the story.

On the whole, I would have preferred a less ‘satisfying’ ending for the Romance audience that showed a much slower, and realistic, development of the Eve-Roarke relationship. This could then have been continued into the later titles in the series and shown some real growth, whereas Ms Robb really has nowhere to go with them now. I also felt that the Romance elements outweighed the Mystery and Suspense, which weakened Eve as a protagonist and I do not feel the need to explore their later triumphs as he uses his shady connections and immense wealth to help her to solve crimes. This is a shame as the world-building was intriguing and showed how much America could change in a few short decades.

Reviews I Recommend:


  1. Many years ago, I gave a book in this series a try and decided it was Romance trying to sneak by in the SF section, and not doing that well. While I don't mind a bit of sex/romance in my stories, I like it to be as complicated as the characters involved - which it wasn't in this case (as you so well pointed out).

  2. Yep, and it didn't really work with the character that Eve was supposed to have. However, the series is massively popular so it seemed like a good choice at the time.


Please let me know what you think, because comments make me happy!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...