Concealed In Death

Concealed In Death  by J.D. Robb

Can reading J.D. Robb be described as a guilty pleasure for an adult male? I feel no guilt for the joy that I receive when I read the adventures of Robb’s Lieutenant Eve Dallas. It’s a great series.

Eve Dallas is a beautiful, feisty, ass-kicking New York cop in the year of 2061. She is married to the Irish criminal Roarke, who has become wildly successful and is now a billionaire still retaining his violent edge. His strong-willed cop wife has also maintained a sharp approach to her work, kept keen by memories of her horrific childhood.

In Concealed in Death we find Dallas investigating the discovery of murdered girl’s bodies, concealed behind false walls in a building that Roarke has recently purchased. Along with her trusty side-kick, Peabody, Lieutenant Dallas is dragged ever deeper into the painful and brutal world of child runaways and their attempts to survive the mean streets of a futuristic New York.

Although set in a sci-fi age, the Eve Dallas stories do not rely heavily upon the period, in telling good tales. The technology of the time is mentioned, but only in passing. Such a beautifully casual approach to a plethora of social advancements, means that the focus remains firmly fixed upon the central plot, though we are still teased and amused by references to the contemporary lives that everyone leads.

Of note in this series, is the creation of a society where, for example, there is such a concept as ‘Licensed Escorts’, who are effectively prostitutes but with a greater amount of respect within their communities. Women who choose to be stay-at-home mums are also paid a salary as their working day is justifiably recognised as an important occupation instead of being frowned upon, as it is today, by misguided and ‘specious feminists’. In J.D Robb’s future, women can be independent and hardheaded and/or mothers who forsake their careers for the sake of their children. Men are also afforded the respect due to them should they make the choice to remain at home with their children. Robb has weaved a progressive and mature vision of a future, and perhaps life may yet come to imitate this particular piece of art.

In Concealed in Death, we meet all the regular characters. The T.V. personality, Nadine Furst; the runaway girl turned pop-star, Mavis; Peabody’s funky lover, McNab, and Roarke’s stuffy yet kind-hearted ‘major-domo’, Summerset. Each personality is well-formed and very engaging, and their behaviour is always consistent.

The plot-lines of all the Eve Dallas books are very well thought out. There are twists and depth and great fun. The issues dealt with, such as that of the abused children who flee their homes in Concealed in Death, are seriously treated. Yet humour is never far away. Thus Robb succeeds in presenting heavy subject matter in an approachable way. It never overwhelms. Such techniques require great skill to pull off, and Robb is a master of her craft.

The interaction between Eve and Roarke can get a tad mushy at times, as they express their intense love for one another. The relationship between Dallas and Peabody, however, is fun and believable. Dallas doesn’t always come across as likeable during these exchanges, but such flaws merely serve to create a more realistic personality.

Concealed in Death is book 39 in the series and was published in 2014. Although each story can be enjoyed independently, I feel that it would be best to start at the beginning (it usually is, unless you’re waxing Donald Trump’s ass). FYI, book 1 is titled Naked in Death and was published way back in 1995. I began haphazardly, and hit upon the series by happy accident. Whilst I did start somewhere in the middle, I thoroughly enjoyed every book since, including those that pre-date the first ones I started on.

J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts. She is one of the most popular authors on the planet. When writing as Nora Roberts her books tend to be much more romantically inclined, and gushy. As a result I do not warm to them. Yet when writing outside the chick-lit genre, Roberts is a writer of a very high calibre.

I should warn you that Nora Roberts is Irish-American, and her love of Ireland is obvious in her books. As an Irishman, I don’t mind that at all. However, I have previously written about the unrealistic expectations that many (non-Irish) women might have regarding Irishmen, due to their portrayal in Robert’s books. Allow me to set the record straight.

Irishmen fart. We fart quite a lot, and often at inopportune moments. We also belch repeatedly, sometimes in the presence of the women we love. We fight, sometimes for the silliest of reasons. I have known men here to fall out over who gets to buy the drinks on a night out, with each arguing that they will pay. It’s a violent form of quixotic behaviour that Irish women also sometimes engage in.

‘I’ll buy them’. ——— ‘No you won’t, I will’. ———— ‘I will, and if you say I won’t I’ll bust your head for ye’. —————– ‘Is that right? Well we’ll see about that you donkey’s scrote’. ————- ‘Who you callin’ a donkey’s scrote, you infected hen’s turd?’ And so on and so forth.

Irishmen do not, in general, like to hold hands with their lover in public, unless they are quite drunk (the Irishman that is, drunk; the lover might also be well oiled and punishing her paramour by forcing him to hold her hand). At that point, we hold hands only to maintain our balance and remain upright. We flirt a lot, but are inexperienced and so confine such actions to ladies aged 80 or over who are friendly with our mothers.

We do tan, and do not all have explosions of freckles. But given the dire lack of sunlight in Ireland, it is strange to see a bronzed Irishman and so we more usually resemble singing, fighting milk bottles. We do not all drink alcohol. When we do, we are all fucking mad. I believe this to be a genetic trait originating with our descendants who emigrated from the Mediterranean region and, faced with persistent wet weather, were in need of solace which they found in poitín (Irish moonshine). Poitín has saturated our DNA, so that even those who don’t imbibe alcohol can be seen to be mental cases. It’s not our fault though. Blame genetics.

Finally (for now), Irishmen are among the most irreverent creatures on the planet. We are, at heart, completely pagan, no matter what the Pope might have to say about it, and wear the veil of Christianity with a nonchalant attitude whilst dancing with the Banshee and singing with the little people (even whilst sober). Robb’s Irish hero, Roarke, is a nice idea, but he’s mostly not the real deal.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, Roarke the Irishman is portrayed in the Eve Dallas series as a tremendous lover. That bit, at least, is accurate…

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Sult scale rating: 8 out of 10. Recommended by virile Paddies everywhere.