Naked in Death: In Death, Book 1. I’m not really much of a traditional romance reader, though every once in a while I get into the mood for it. What I do love are romantic suspense novels, either ones that lean toward the mystery side, like Faye Kellerman or ones leaning toward romance, like J.D. Robb. As an aside, for anybody not in the know, J.D. Robb is actually an alternate pen name for Nora Roberts.
Robb’s series “Naked in Death” takes place in the 2058 in New York City.The main character, Eve Dallas, is a young homicide lieutenant in the NY Police and security Department. Eve is having problems with recurring nightmares over an unpreventable death on the job. She is waiting for extensive psychological testing required by her job, but is relieved when the testing is postponed in order to put her on a high profile case of a senator’s murdered granddaughter.
The victim, Sharon DeBlass, had been working as a licensed companion, the term used for now-legal prostitute. The unusual part about Sharon’s death was that she had been shot by an antique gun. In the 21st century, owning a gun is limited to very few licensed collectors. Shortly before Sharon’s death, she had an appointment with Roarke, a wealthy man known to have an antique gun collection and to be an excellent shot.
Eve and Roarke meet at Sharon’s funeral and they fly back to New York. Roarke is clearly attracted to her from the start, but refrains from acting on his feelings because he prefers to avoid police. Eve, on the other hand, seems to have no such concerns about associating with potential criminals. Her best friend Mavis and she have a history that goes back to Eve arresting her for petty crimes.
The pressure on Eve to find the murderer is intense, as the Senator is using this to help his “Morality Bill” to legalize firearms and ban prostitution. She goes back to Roarke’s house, hoping to collect evidence against him, but ends up kissing him. When she is summoned to the next in the series of murders, she leaves him.
They meet again the next day in his office and fight because he has no alibi and is angry at her for even thinking he might have been involved. He breaks into her home that evening to speak to her and they end up fighting again. Finally, she confesses to him that she is carrying lingering guilt over the death of the girl and he attempts to console her.
As the book progresses, she is faced with the fact that all of the clues lead back to Roarke as the primary suspect. Her heart is preventing her from believing it, though. They make love and she finds herself becoming more emotionally attached to him than she has ever been with any of her lovers. When her commander discovers that she and Roarke are lovers, she’s ordered to lie and say that DeBlass is not connected with the other murder.
Another woman is killed and the evidence against Roarke mounts. Eve eventually realizes that Roarke has been framed, leaving Roarke furious with her. Her partner intervenes on her behalf and Roarke responds by breaking into Eve’s apartment yet again. They spend the evening together and in the morning, he professes his love for her.
Eve takes advantage of the resources that Roarke has to offer in order to discreetly determine who has been bankrolling the murder investigation. The police chief, she learns, has been receiving millions of dollars from Senator DeBlass. She also learns that Sharon’s grandfather had been molesting her. She promptly flies to Washington D.C. to arrest Senator DeBlass publically for three murders.
When she returns to her home, however, she finds Senator DeBlass’ aide in her apartment. He shoots her, but her cat distracts him and she is able to defend herself. She and Roarke leave her apartment together and she tells him that she would like to continue to see him.All in all, I think the book was a little lighter on the mystery aspect than I would have preferred, but it was still an enjoyable read.
Definitely something for when the kids aren’t around, though!
Susan Ericksen’s narration approaches perfection giving all the characters a distinct definition.