Nearly a decade ago, Nora Roberts' alter ego J.D. Robb introduced a series with an interesting combination of genres. More than just an old-fashioned romance, it is a romance with a twist: It's a futuristic murder mystery too. And the damsel in distress is tough-as-nails Lt. Eve Dallas. NAKED IN DEATH is the first in a stream of more than a dozen tales involving the steamy/steely lieutenant.
In J.D. Robb's future world --- the world in another five decades --- there are myriad changes, as one would expect, but she suggests that human nature will remain what it has always been, and will continue to be: flawed.
The murder that gets the story rolling isn't committed with a fancy techno-weapon, but an old-fashioned, messy handgun. While banned in the future, they are legally collectible. Multi-billionaire Roarke has an enviable collection of them. Naturally, the detectives question him immediately. But would a man with the wherewithal and wit to achieve Roarke's position be so cocky as to callously toss the murder weapon down next to the body and figure he can escape police scrutiny? He comes under even more suspicion when it is learned the victim's building security tapes have been tampered with. Roarke is an unequaled expert in the field. To complicate matters, the victim is the granddaughter of powerful Senator de Blass, an ill-tempered politician screaming for justice and decency --- and the capture of the person who killed his precious Sharon.
Then a second body turns up, the setting a mirror image of the first. This involves another "licensed companion" (the euphemistic term applied in 2058 to a prostitute). And another antique gun is casually dropped at the scene. When a third "companion" is found in identical circumstances, the powerful senator cranks up the heat on the already-overworked detectives. Eve fears her job may be in jeopardy without a quick capture of the murderer.
The investigation throws Roarke and Lt. Dallas together almost daily, much to her dismay --- and occasional delight. As Eve eliminates him as a viable suspect, she finds herself drawn to the man. Against her will and her better judgment, she surrenders to her own desires. The pair vibrates with electricity that says this attraction is more than just sexual.
The series, starting with NAKED IN DEATH, is instantly likable, readable and full of enough action to satisfy all but the most intellectual of readers. Bedroom scenes come often enough for the romance lovers among the mystery buffs. And a bagful of twists will keep you guessing, right to the very end.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011