Chances are, if you’re a Bones fan who reads mysteries/procedurals, someone, somewhere along the line, has recommended you try the In Death series of novels by J.D. Robb.
If so, maybe you ran right out and read the first one, and get why they’re popular with so many fans of the show. Or maybe you’re still planning to, at some point, or perhaps you’re like I can be on occasion: the more something is recommended to you the more you stubbornly resist it. (This behavior mystifies me, btw, as the great majority of times, when I’ve finally broken down and read/watched whatever it was, I did, in fact, love it.)
Either way, I’ve been intending to do an introduction to the books here for a while now, and since the first eight are on sale at Amazon (today only!) for a $1.99 each, today’s a good day to do so.
You know how Bones is genre-bending? Mostly procedural, but also a mix of romance and comedy? The In Death books are the same way: a mix of procedural and romance, with a side of science fiction and occasional humor.
Whoa, wait – sci fi?
Yeah, but it’s what we’ll call ‘sci fi lite.’ The books are set in New York in 2059, and while it’s still very much our world, there’s technology we don’t yet have. That’s about it on the sci-fi front, really. The stories aren’t about the technology.
What they are about is a homicide cop named Eve Dallas solving murders, with the assistance of Roarke, (her business tycoon husband), and a team of other cops and friends.
The first book is a straight-up romantic suspense novel. When we first meet Eve, a former foster child who doesn’t remember much of her childhood, she has two friends – a reformed con artist named Mavis, and her former partner, Feeney, now head of the Electronics Detective Division. Despite those relationships, her life is a narrow one, devoted to finding justice for victims. She can’t not be a murder cop.
She meets Roarke in that first book and while he falls hard for her, it takes her a while longer to realize that what she’s feeling is love. Nevertheless, he perseveres, and their relationship develops, with them marrying a few books into the series. (I’m being deliberately vague there, as my goal is to give an overall view of the series without much spoilage.)
Roarke has his own complicated background, and it’s hard to imagine two less-suited people, and yet he proves the ideal foil/support for Eve.
(Any of that sound familiar?)
I’ve found that people who love both the books and Bones often do so for similar reasons: for some, it’s the characters, for some it’s the cases, and for some, it’s relationship between Eve and Roarke.
For me, it’s all three, but it’s also about the larger character development taking place. As the series goes along, Robb adds new characters to the mix – a profiler who becomes a mother figure for Eve, an aid who later becomes Eve’s partner, a family for Roarke he never knew he had. There’s a point, mid-way through the series, where Eve realizes that her team is her family, however odd it is to be discussing murder and mayhem around the dinner table in a billionaire’s mansion.
Although the books are not as intentionally humorous as Bones is, and some of them are actually quite dark, there are lighter moments. Eve and Peabody’s (the aid/later partner) developing relationship provides some comic relief, as does Eve’s often baffled inner monologues, particularly about life with Roarke.
The series is ongoing and since Robb (a pseudonym for Nora Roberts) publishes two per year, plus a novella in the fall, there’s rather a lot of them to enjoy. The full list is here.
Although you can read them in any order, given the character development and relationship history (not just between the leads), I’d recommend reading them in order if at all possible.
(Psst. The next one is due out in February, where Eve finds herself making use of the departmental forensic anthropologist.)