- Title: Naked in Death
- Author: J D Robb
- Series: In Death #1
- Genre: Futuristic Murder Mystery Romance (yes, really)
- Format: e-book
- Source: Own copy
- Reviewed by: Erica, Guest reviewer
- Rating: 5 out of 5
Description: It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion.
When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society.
Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome… and the leading suspect in the investigation.
Review: This is the first book in the – already quite epic – In Death series by J D Robb, better known under her other pseudonym of Nora Roberts. This was a re-read for me, since I’d so far got up to part 11, but I wanted to refresh my memory for the review.
With this being the first book, there are many introductions to be made. Central to all books is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a homicide detective in the New York City Police Force in the year 2058. Bear in mind that this book was first published in the mid-nineties, so some of the futuristic technology doesn’t quite ring true anymore, but there is plenty that still feels logical and/or believable, such as the fact that neither coffee nor meat are available to the masses anymore (way too expensive). People drink synthetic coffee, and the street vendors sell soy dogs rather than hot dogs.
Some of these futuristic quirks are cleverly staged by means of the main subject of the book: Eve is a homicide detective, so each book in this series deals with finding a murderer. In this case, the murderer’s victim is a so-called ‘licensed companion’, ie. a prostitute. Prostitution has been legalised, with numerous rules slapped on such as compulsory monthly health checks. All licensed companions enter into the profession voluntarily and are self-employed, thus abolishing the need for pimps or madams. Bloody great idea if you ask me, and what I liked is that not only women are licensed companions – the murdered woman’s neighbour is a male one.
The unexpected curiosity about this murder is that it has been committed with a gun, which has been left on the scene. This is a curiosity, since guns have been banned for a long time now, and are only available to licensed collectors. This severely restricts the choice of suspects, and one such suspect is Roarke. This is the only name he ever goes by, and he is not only remarkably handsome, he is also one of the richest men on earth. Since he had an appointment with the victim shortly before she died, Eve seeks him out as one of the prime suspects.
The plot of the book reads like any kind of crime novel – detective investigates murder, questions suspects, finds clues and solves it all at the end. What makes it different is the romance angle, which is just as prominent as the murder mystery. Eve and Roarke are undeniably attracted to each other – something which Roarke is more open to pursuing than Eve – and in the course of solving the murder they begin the relationship that runs at the heart of this entire series.
Many of the secondary characters in this book return in future volumes. There’s Detective Feeney, Eve’s erstwhile mentor and good friend in the force, and always a staunch supporter. There’s Mavis, who is Eve’s only true friend, and who is as different from the hard-as-nails, reclusive cop as night from day. There’s Doctor Mira, the force’s calm and competent psychologist, and Nadine Furst, the reporter who is always on the lookout for an exclusive story.
I won’t say much of the murder mystery itself, other than that I did not figure out the culprit until I was meant to, which is always a good thing, and in that sense this is already a book worth reading. What keeps making me buy the next book though, is the constantly evolving relationship between Eve and Roarke. Eve has a damaged past; she was found on the streets when she was eight years old, and does not remember anything from her time before then. Her true name is unknown; the social workers called her Eve after the first woman, and Dallas because that’s the city where they found her. Roarke was born in Dublin, and worked his way up from Irish street urchin, poorer than poor, to where he is now through sheer determination and numerous practices which were not always above board. They both have strong personalities, and they often clash because they are also both as stubborn as a mule. Watching them as they learn to deal with each other is fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, but always entertaining.
A strong start to a fabulous series.