There’s a recognized trope in romance that people want to, let’s say, celebrate life after a funeral. Or any kind of “near death” experience. That’s not what this post is about. Ahem.
The “In Death” series, by J.D. Robb, is a genre bending mash up of romance, surprisingly classic police procedural mystery, and just a touch of futuristic looking science fiction.
It’s cop shop type mystery for romance readers who say they don’t like mysteries; and it’s romance for mystery readers who say they don’t want any mushy stuff in their whodunnits. And then there’s just enough of that shiver up your spine when the characters say or do something that makes the reader aware that the story is set in 2060 to give it a futuristic feel, but not enough to scare aware anyone who says they really don’t want sci-fi cooties in either their romance or their mystery.
The “In Death” series is a bit of a gateway drug for all three genres, or a way to get past an assignment to read something in a genre you’re not sure about. But what is it?
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb is a mystery. It really is. It’s just that in the year 2058, things have changed a bit, except that people are still the same. It’s the New York Police and Security Department in this brave new world, and technology has a lot more control over people’s lives (scary thought that). The officer in charge of investigating the homicide that kicks off the story is NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas.
The plot is a classic, because the homicide she has to investigate is that of a senator’s daughter. Political influence still buys a lot of police favors. Especially when the victim’s father wants to cover up that his child was a prostitute. The investigation becomes further complicated when Eve finds herself attracted to the prime suspect, Roarke, a man who happens to be one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, and a man who did not come by all of his wealth legally.
What makes the In Death series, now in its 37th book with Thankless in Death, released last month, so fascinating?
Admittedly, the books are generally a lot of fun. But it’s more than that. By making each individual story about a murder case, Robb has created a “cop shop” of Eve’s fellow detectives and the people who help her solve cases. We’ve come to care about the people she works with, and each book offers a tantalizing glimpse into how all the other relationships that surround Eve and Roarke are progressing.
Eve and Roarke also start the series as people with very dark pasts, so both characters have their own journeys to go through, as they explore what it means to reconcile themselves with a lot of very serious events that happened in both their personal pasts and in the history that happens between our now and the future they inhabit. Some of the intervening time is not pretty and it does matter. And although their romance is a strong subplot in Naked in Death, their marriage occurs at the end of book 3 in the series, Immortal in Death. Yet the series continues to have a consistently hot romantic focus.
We’ve all watched too many TV series where, as soon as the couple who we’ve all been wondering whether or not they would ever get together finally get together, the entire chemistry on the show falls apart.
If you’re looking for places to dive into the series, in addition to the strong introduction to the series in Naked in Death, two of my personal favorites are New York to Dallas, where the case that made Eve’s career comes back to haunt her, and Fantasy in Death, where the case involves the video game industry.