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Review of "Naked in Death" by J.D. Robb


As I mentioned in my last post, I have been re-reading Naked in Death by J.D. Robb and that I have noticed a few things in this reading that I hadn't in the past.  What disturbs me about this reading is how much I don't like Roarke.  I have never had a problem with his character before and it makes me wonder if a part of me liked his uber-alpha behavior when I first read it.  Reading it now?  I can't stand him.  This isn't the same Roarke as in future books, although he is still an alpha hero.  He isn't an alphole, though, which is how he comes off in this book.

For those that don't know this series, it follows Lt. Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department (NYPSD) in the mid-21st century and her husband, the billionaire, Roarke.  Naked in Death is the first book of the series and shows how Eve and Roarke met.  The plot is simple, hookers (known as Licensed Companions or LC's) are being murdered and Eve must find the killer.  It is during her investigation that she meets Roarke because he had a tenuous connection with the first victim.

My problem with this book is not that Eve finds herself falling in love with a man who happens to be a suspect in a series of grisly murders (murders committed with banned weapons--guns from the late 20th century).  No, my problem is that Roarke behaves like someone who could be a serial killer.  He insinuates himself into her case, offering to help her get in touch with people her first victim may have known and who may have wanted to kill her because he's got contacts that she does not.  To make matters worse, he lets himself into her apartment and sits there in the dark without making a sound, so that when Eve comes home she can sense that someone is there.

For someone who isn't a trained cop, this freaks me out.  Why the hell is a guy breaking into a girl's apartment to sit there and wait for her?  Why couldn't he just call her and tell her that he has information for her?  His actions feel very manipulative and have me wondering if he is a dangerous killer--if you have read the later books, then you know that he is in fact a killer, but not a dangerous one anymore.  I would not want to have anything to do with this guy, but Eve seems not to have a problem with this, and even goes on to sleep with him in the middle of the investigation while he is showing her his collection of guns.  (That alone is completely insane--who the hell gets turned on standing in a room full of weapons?!)

Let me be clear, I love this series.  I have been reading it for ten years now and I plan on reading it until the last book is released.  However, if I picked up Naked in Death today, not having read any of the subsequent books in the series, I wouldn't want to read the other books because of the way Roarke is depicted here.  It is quite possible that Nora (J.D. Robb is a pseudonym for Nora Roberts) intended for Roarke to come off as if he really could be the killer and if that is the case than I have to give her props because it takes guts to implicate your hero in a series of murders and still get people to like him enough to keep reading.

I will not give this book a grade because I have read it so many times before and I am afraid that my memories of the book may cloud the grade.  I will say that it would be much lower than it I thought it would be going into this re-read because I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

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