Monday, February 25, 2013

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line--between seductive passion and scandalous murder...

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

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Mystery isn't my usual genre to read in, so I'm not as sure how to evaluate those aspects of this book, though I will say that I found the case Eve was working on to be fascinating. Horrific, yes, but also fascinating with all of the information given about how Eve goes about trying to find the killer, from identifying and eliminating possible suspects, to the profiling and other research she does. You get the real sense that even though technology has improved by Eve's time, not a whole lot has changed really with how the police go about trying to solve a crime.

Eve is a very realistic character. While I do believe she's described as being at least moderately attractive, she's not supermodel gorgeous by any means, and she's almost completely lacking in vanity. She dresses in a way that is both practical and professional, without much thought given beyond those requirements, and she doesn't fuss over her appearance overmuch with cosmetics or such either. Her personality is very down to earth as well. Deeply compassionate, but also with an unflinching sense of duty and responsibility, she truly cares about the victims and about seeing justice done on their behalf, and she's not so wrapped up in being the hard boiled cop that she can't let herself cut loose for a few hours to have a passionate tryst with Roarke. But she doesn't let emotion stand in the way of doing what she knows she has to do, even when it practically destroys her emotionally to do so. It is only in the latter part of the book that we start to see just how truly damaged she really is beneath her hard-boiled, in-control exterior, and we get to see that as the case and her relationship with Roarke progresses, the cracks in her armor start to become more and more apparent, and the glue that has been holding her together and keeping her in one piece starts to decay. It will be interesting to see how that aspect of her character plays out in future books.

Roarke is a fascinating character, despite the fact that his ridiculous wealth and complete mastery of dang near everything is a little overly convenient at times. He is very much the alpha-male type, and does instinctively want to protect and take care of Eve, but he's intelligent enough to recognize that she wouldn't welcome such from him, or at least only within very stringent boundaries will she accept it. He respects her need for independence, and gives her the space she needs, even when it drives him mad to do so. We get some few glimpses into his past that reveal that he's very much a self-made man, and he has a lot of issues of his own to work through I'm sure, some of which likely mirror Eve's to a large degree. I'm curious to see how much more will come out, and how their troubled backgrounds will play into their relationship in the future.

I thought the book moved along at a good pace and maintained a good balance between plot progression of the murder mystery, development of the budding relationship between Eve and Roarke, and the character development of Eve, Roarke, and various of the secondary characters. I never really felt like one aspect was receiving more than its fair share of attention nor like progress in one area was stagnating due to the attention given to others. The main problems I had with this book had to do with the futuristic setting and some of the attitudes that still existed. In particular I found some of the points argued by the ultra-conservative faction as evidence of moral decline to be rather odd, in particular the way they included denouncements of birth control practically in the same breath as denouncements of legal prostitution. While I don't have much problem seeing many of the ultra-conservatives' beefs as still being issues in the future, I had a bit of hard time believing that very many would object to something like birth control, since that's something that's already largely accepted by our society in present day, and was even when this book was written in the 1990s. There are a few indications that population control has become a serious concern by the time of the book, so it makes even less sense that politicians would be speaking out against allowing birth control.

Despite my quibbles with some of the minor points of plot and setting, I did really enjoy this book. I listened to it on audio and particularly recommend that format if you're at all into audiobooks, for the narrator, Susan Ericksen, does a superb job. I'd recommend this to anyone that likes mysteries, but also those that like romance and/or books with a dash of sci-fi in them. Definitely a 4 star read, held back from 5 mainly because of the slight anachronisms in it.

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