Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

 I'd read some positive reviews of J.D. Robb's In Death series a long time ago, and I encountered a coworker reading one of them the other day, as well. After a bit of casual quizzing, I decided to reserve the first in the series at the library, and I have to say it wasn't too bad. The books are vaguely science fictional - taking place about forty years in a future where all guns have been outlawed unless you're a wealthy collector, coffee and real beef steaks are luxuries for the rich, and prostitutes - licensed companions - are respectable businesspersons, for the most part.

When a licensed companion who also happens to be a U.S. Senator's granddaughter is murdered brutally with a rare firearm, New York's finest homicide detective Eve Dallas is assigned to the case. She's still a little shaken up from her last encounter with a murderer - an abusive father who knifed his wife and carved their young daughter into pieces, so she's just a little off balance as the investigation progresses. It's immediately evident that this is going to be a serial killer, as the perpetrator leaves a card under the body that says "1 of 6".

It's not a big surprise, then, when the next victim is another licensed companion, but not politically connected. There don't seem to be any ties between the two women, and Dallas is under pressure from the Chief of Police to solve the case quickly to get Washington off his back. One of Eve's first suspects is a man known as Roarke, an Irishman of dubious antecedents who has grown extremely wealthy, is known to the family of the first victim, and who collects antique firearms. When she meets with him to interrogate him about the murder, however, both he and she find a romantic attraction between them that is totally irrational, and provides some extra conflicts in the course of the tale.

So, if it wasn't for a few little bits of window dressing, you'd never know this was a future crime novel rather than a contemporary one. As science fiction it's pretty lame. It is a good mystery/thriller, though, even though I knew from the beginning who the killer was - I've just read too much of this stuff over the years to miss the clues. On the romance side, it does get a bit steamy, so this book should appeal to a wide variety of audiences. I've got the next one on hold.

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