Secrets In Death by JD Robb
Regular readers of Rebel Voice book reviews will know that the Lieutenant Eve Dallas series is a firm favourite, although serious reservations still exist regarding how soppy Roarke is. Secrets In Death is more of the same sterling stuff.
It’s New York in the latter half of the 21st century, and Eve Dallas is a highly regarded cop with a no-bullshit attitude. She’s married to Irish billionaire, Roarke, a former criminal now legit. It’s a strange partnership but works as they both like handcuffs.
As Eve meets a colleague for a drink, a murder is committed under her nose. The victim dies in Eve’s arms and this really pisses the consummate cop off. The dead woman turns out to be Larinda Mars, a gossip columnist with a penchant for making people really angry with her. As Eve, ably assisted by the likeable Detective Delia Peabody, investigates, they discover that writing about celebrities and their sordid lives is not the only line of business that Mars was in. It emerges that she also had a highly profitable sideline in blackmail. Celebrities and others of influence have secrets, and the industrious gossip merchant had a talent for unearthing that which they felt should be left buried. As such secrets could be damaging to lucrative careers, and as Mars showed no mercy, the suspect list for causing her death is about as long as a giraffe’s cock.
The mystery of Mars’ death deepens when it transpires that Larinda Mars was not who she claimed to be and had a well-hidden past of her own. Eve finds herself immersed in possibilities and wants to scream and pull her pubes out in frustration. Roarke suggests getting a Brazilian to reduce the temptation and pulls some of his own out in solidarity (only joking about that pube bit). Speaking of pubes, Eve gets to show hers often in Secrets In Death as she and Roarke go at it like Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels on speed. It all makes for a gripping read.
JD Robb, aka Nora Roberts, is a best-selling author for a good reason; she can plot and she can write. Secrets In Death is yet another thriller that doubles as murder-mystery. The reader may have some idea of who the killer might be, but it remains moot until the final few chapters. The clues and threads twist and turn taking the reader in various directions. All the while, we are treated to the consistently entertaining interplay between Dallas and Peabody, and the sexy – if overly soppy – dynamic between Roarke and Eve.
The pace is fast. There is always something relevant happening. The cast is sizeable but manageable as the author gives just enough insight to each to help us better understand and appreciate the characters. The settings are, as always, intriguing.
Although set in the future – one in which Robb has certainly over-estimated the advances of technology – the novel cannot strictly be labelled sci-fi. It’s more like Bladerunner meets Murder She Wrote. It’s the crime story that is the central element, not the setting. The references to hi-tech devices and techniques are casually tossed around as if of no consequence, yet they serve to paint the landscape through which Eve Dallas sweeps in her law enforcement magnificence.
There are machines that can create any meal or drink you desire; cars that hover and fly; bullet-proof coats as fashion accessories and Off-world colonies. There are also social changes in which the author is way ahead of the curve. Lifestyles such as paid stay-at-home mums and licenced sex-workers suggest a logical evolution in human behaviour. In this, Nora Roberts is providing solid guidance for today’s societies. She is a true feminist and this shows in every instalment of Eve Dallas’ life. With any luck, at least some of what Roberts has suggested in her fiction will become reality (but not the instance of a soppy Irishman. Heaven forbid!).
As for that soppy Irishman, it’s easy to see why Roarke lives in New York and not Ireland. If he tried that schmaltzy ‘I love you boo boo… please keep my testicles in your purse while I paint your toenails and then you can paint mine’ shite in Ireland, he would end up in a bog and 2000 years later would become the subject of a poem by a Nobel prize winner.
That said, Nora Roberts is Irish-American and obviously fiercely proud of her ancestry. No self-respecting Irish person should criticize her for that and neither will Rebel Voice. Instead, RV calls for a statue of Roberts to be placed at Stormont in the Occupied Six Counties. It could replace the one that immortalizes the sectarian bigot Carson. Give us Nora Roberts any day.
Getting back to Secrets In Death, as Eve moves closer to finding the killer who remains a danger to others, she is taken back to the horrors of her own childhood as she encounters the victims of Larinda Mars. But Eve now has a solid circle of very good friends to support her, and she has matured enough to accept their assistance. It doesn’t make her any softer on crime though. She’s a tough cop with a kind heart and integrity – and a very high sex-drive given the amount of riding that she and Roarke do. Then again, Roarke is an Irishman and they would make any woman horny, including Stormy Daniels who has seen the Donald naked… ahem (OK, OK, there might be a slight bias there, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be true).
Sult scale rating: 8 out of 10. Another solid addition to a great series that has murder-mystery, sci-fi, romance, sex and a healthy dollop of wry humour with tongue-in-cheek observations. Give it a go and you won’t be disappointed.
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