16. “Naked in death” by Nora Roberts (writing as J.D.Robb)

Publisher: Piatkus Books, 2010 (originally published in 1995)
Page count: 400 pages

“Naked in death” is the first book in the long series of crime novels about police lieutenant Eve Dallas. It is set in 2058 in a typical science fiction society: police officers are equipped with Star Trek-like lasers, AutoChefs cook the food, computers are voice operated, space voyage and domestic droids are commonplace, and guns were long since banned as they were considered barbaric. Despite this, the working life of Lt. Dallas is remarkably similar to that of today’s police detectives; human murders are still motivated by the same age-old motives of money, sex, jealousy and greed.

In this book, the luxury prostitute grand-daughter of a powerful US senator is discovered in bed shot through the head, heart and pubic area with an old-fashioned gun. A note at the scene of the crime suggests this is the first of six murders to come, and the murderer taunts the police to catch him by sending a video of the misdeed. The political delicacy of the case means Eve Dallas is asked to investigate the matter quickly and discreetly without relying on the police resources normally associated with a murder. Only Feeney, a police captain and computer wiz, is allocated to help her resolve the case.

Over the course of the investigation Eve repeatedly comes across Roarke, a stupendously rich and good-looking Irishman with a sketchy past. Roarke quickly becomes a primary suspect in Eve’s case because he owns a huge antique gun collection, had master access to the victim’s flat (as he owns the building), and was purportedly dating the victim in the days prior to her death. The only problem is, Roarke and Eve also hit it off fabulously and begin dating. With Roarke unaccounted for at the time of the next two murders, Eve’s personal life begins to interfere with her job…

While I enjoy science fiction on tv and in the cinema, I have never been a big fan of sci-fi litterature. However, in this series Norah Roberts hits just the right balance so that the sci-fi never becomes unrealistic or takes away the focus from the crime or the romance between Eve and Roarke. Instead, the author turns the futuristic setting into an asset by making it a source for humour and romantic interludes, such as when Roarke introduces Eve to real coffee for the first time (AutoChefs only cook synthetic food…). I absolutely loved the combination of crime, romance and sci-fi in this book, and I can’t wait to read the next volume in the series!


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