Saturday, January 31, 2009

Remember When by Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb

The latest in my re-read of the In Death series by J. D. Robb is the one that broke the pattern of In Death titles, Remember When. It’s a twofer. Part one is a contemporary romantic suspense written by Nora Roberts and part two is the futuristic romantic suspense with our heroine Eve Dallas written by Nora's alter ego, J. D. Robb. It is also the book that bridged the In Death series from paperback publishing to hardcover. Since I am not currently re=reading the entire backlist of Nora Roberts, (I can’t even calculate how long THAT would take) I refreshed my memory of the plot of part one by re-reading just the ending. I then read part two in its entirety. Taken together the set is excellent—each part alone holds up fine—but together the story arc has good depth.

The continuing thematic question of the In Death series is the exploration of nature versus nurture. Are the children of evil parents doomed to be evil? Since both Eve and Roarke are the children of criminals, abusers, and all around skanks—and since they see the continuing havoc such people wreak—we’re used to the question coming up. Eighty percent of personality is genetic, you know. Can you overcome your nature and choose a better path? Eve and Roarke are proof that you can. As characters they are non-religious—but, they each found something that gave them its equivalent. For Roarke, it is making money and acquiring power and control so that he won't be in need or abused ever again. For Eve, it is being a cop and standing for the dead—making sure that justice is done. Money and police work are their religions, I guess you could say. Perhaps inadvertently, Roberts/Robb makes the case that we all need “other”, something outside ourselves to have purpose and meaning in life and to overcome adversity.

In Remember When, someone is killing people in an attempt to find a fortune in stolen diamonds. It turns out that, that person is the grandson of the man who originally helped to steal the diamonds fifty years previously (outlined in part one). In this case, evil skipped a generation. The murders are solved fairly quickly—Eve Dallas' part is really just half a book, after all.

The best parts of the book, for me, are the Peabody scenes. She’s just gotten her Detective badge and she spends the case trying out new looks for her non-uniform detective persona. The girl shoes that she wears the first day are like torture devices after Eve walks her all over New York City. Peabody’s delight at being a detective and Eve’s partner add a whole new level of enjoyment to the series.

This was a fun little read and I enjoyed it—I would have finished it days ago but for the fact that I put my back out and reading was not really do-able when I couldn't sit, lay, or stand without pain. I’m improving after four days—so happily, I was finally able to keep rocking along in my re-reading quest and the book challenge. (I’m about to pass 5000 pages for the month, woohoo!) To finish my “review”, I give Remember When four stars for the Eve Dallas part---if only because Mavis and Summerset are completely absent from the story. ;o )