Spotlight on … JD Robb

The best thing about JD Robb’s In Death series is that she neatly combines two of my favourite genres: romantic suspense and science fiction. Robb, better known as international romance phenomenon Nora Roberts, introduced her classic protagonist Eve Dallas  to readers way back in 1995. The fiftieth novel in the series will release next year … and if that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is!

Naked in Death is the first in this highly entertaining futuristic crime series. The year is 2058, and Eve Dallas is a lieutenant in the New York Police and Security Department. She catches a new case, the murder of Sharon deBlass, a prominent senator’s granddaughter, and as she’s plunged into the shadowy worlds of wealth and politics it swiftly becomes apparent that if she’s not careful the next murder to be investigated will be her own.

And if that’s not enough to keep her occupied, her prime suspect is a man who turns heads everywhere he goes. Roarke is fabulously wealthy, fabulously handsome … and seriously attracted to Eve. To her everlasting frustration, she’s just as attracted to him. It’s a match made in heaven … or maybe in hell.

These are some of my favourite books ever. When Naked in Death was released it was without much fanfare. The fact that it was actually Nora Roberts behind the books was kept secret for a long time. It came out around the time I opened my bookshop, and it took a good while for me to get around to reading it. But when I did I was instantly hooked, and I’m proud to say I did my part in hooking many, many customers after me!

One of the most delightful things about the series, aside from the great crimes and the deftly handled romance elements, is the future twist Robb gives to the world-building. It’s never heavy-handed, just neat little hints and throwaway references with very little info-dumpy exposition. Basically you jump on board and go along for the ride into a future that’s wonderfully different yet still recognisable and, most importantly, believable.

Mind you, as much as I loved Naked, the series really took off for me in the third book, Immortal in Death. That’s when Eve teams up properly with Delia Peabody, a beat cop introduced in the previous book Glory in Death. Dallas and Peabody are a brilliant duo, one of the great female cop pairings in literature. In a world full to the brim with cop bromances, this match-up is as kick-arse as anyone could want, and refreshingly different thanks to the characters’ gender.

There are many great supporting characters in this series, cops and criminals and mysterious butlers and petty thieves turned unexpected friends. While each book deals with a standalone crime, there is plenty of fun to be had with the ongoing characters journeys and arcs. The Eve/Roarke romance is an important thread but it’s never overpowering or saccharine sweet. There’s an edge to that relationship, an edge to Eve and Roarke – who both have complicated histories –  and the crimes aren’t sugar-coated either.

What can I say? I’m a huge fan. So if you’re looking for something a little bit sci-fi, a little bit romantic and a lot suspenseful, try the In Death books. Maybe you’ll fall for them as hard as I did!

6 thoughts on “Spotlight on … JD Robb

    • Excellent! I really love telling people about great books, and strive always to find the perfect match of reader to book. Of course it’s harder when we’re not face to face, but I’ll give it my best shot here.

  1. Thanks for doing a great service to readers. I am always looking for some new adventure in reading. For some reason I thought Nora Roberts was a “chick” writer. I will give J D Robb a try.

    • Well, some folk might still think she’s primarily chick lit. Certainly a lot of the character pov work is with Eve – but she’s about as far from pink and fluffy as you can get. *g* Later books do give us Roark’s pov, which makes for a nice counterpoint. But the guys in her books are properly guys, not women in male drag, so that’s good too! Bottom line is, give it a go. If you like the first one, Naked in Death, great. If not, you can smack with me a wet fish. And if you do enjoy crime fiction but you prefer a more masculine flavour/tone, I also highly recommend (and will spotlight at some point) Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series. If memory serves, the first book is A Clubbable Woman. Or else try Michael Connelly, or Robert Crais. They’re all very fine writers who again tend to come at story from the masculine pov.

  2. I love the in Death series. I tried a couple of Nora trilogies and finished reading but was quite meh and then a friend told me about her JD Robb persona. Imagine the joy in being able to glom over 20 of them in a row! I only finally got hold of Naked in Death just before Christmas and it was fascinating to read after Festive in Death – seeing how they all started and where they had evolved. Looking forward to the next one and hate the fact I am caught up and have to wait like everybody else! 🙂

    • I think you need to pick and choose with the trilogies – and most of them are close to straight romance. If you haven’t tried the Born in series I’d highly recommend that one. Well, the first two. The third pleases me less, but Born in Fire is one of my all-time favourite books. Her description of the artwork gets me every time. I can see it, and I want to buy it! I also like the Dream trilogy and the Three Sisters trilogy (which has a strong supernatural/fantasy element).

      I just read Festive and I did enjoy it!

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