Book Review: Naked in Death

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“It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing: passion.

When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome… and the leading suspect in the investigation.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads


*spoilers ahead!*

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I have been wanting to read this series for quite a while now. I have heard good things about it and based on my reading history I thought it would be a good match – and it was.

The (Near) Future

This book came out in 1995. I’m sure the year 2058 seemed eons away then, and while it kind of still is, I think we have a better idea of what 2058 will look like now.

Robb’s depiction of the future is an interesting one. I have read a lot of science fiction books and short stories and on the whole am willing to accept whatever version of the future an author paints with their words as long as it fits with the story. In this case, Robb’s future works. But a couple things stood out to me for reasons below.

  • Flying cars/hover cars. I have a very hard time visualizing flying cars being as commonplace as they are made to seem in most stories including this one. With the amount of air pollution already in our skies coupled with the general disinterest by mainstream culture in pursuing clean energy, I don’t see air travel beyond planes becoming the norm any time relatively soon.
  • Lasers instead of guns. The complete absence of guns such that people will one day find them unrecognizable? What a dream. As is mentioned in the story, there is still a black market for “antique” firearms in this version of the future. That alone makes me think they will still exist no matter what new means of self-protection will be crafted.
  • No coffee. The rainforests have been destroyed resulting in, among other losses, no coffee. None. Nowhere. The only coffee Eve Dallas can get comes from her AutoChef and it is a poor substitute so she says. But coffee and the culture surrounding coffee (it’s where we go for dates, interviews, to be social, to sit in the corner and be anti-social, etc.) is so deeply engrained in mainstream culture that I cannot realistically see it boiling down (pun intended?) to the nothingness which Eve is forced to drink. People care about their coffee, and they care about the cute animals that live in rainforests; the plausibility of those two things ceasing to exist doesn’t seem likely to me.

Those are the three aspects of Robb’s futuristic world that, while they made for intriguing plot lines, I just couldn’t quite get on board with.

Eve & Roarke

Eve Dallas is a bad ass detective. I liked her from the get-go because she’s smart and good at her job. I was intrigued by the revelation that she can’t remember the first eight years of her life. We learn later that her inability to recall her childhood is actually a result of repressed memories due to significant trauma. In fact, Eve Dallas isn’t even her real name, rather the name she was given when she was found on the street at age eight, with no memory of her identify or her parents. Ouch. (This led me to wonder if her true identify will be revealed later on in a future book?) Eve is thus very guarded with herself and her life, for justified reasons.

I understand Eve’s attraction to Roarke. He is handsome, wealthy and a smooth talker. But his behavior is riddled with red flags, the kind that indicate abusive, controlling behavior. It isn’t just in the way he develops a familiarity with Eve right off the bat, which she finds unsettling, it’s in every move he makes while around her.ย He is constantly gripping her shoulders, pushing her into chairs, refusing to let her turn her head away from him, initiating close touch and more.

It would be one thing if Eve’s resistance to Roarke was purely because of her desire to keep her work and personal life separate. She has a job to do and he is a suspect in her case, plain and simple. But her resistance comes mostly from the fact that she has been abused. Knowing this while reading about their physical encounters was unsettling. Any other readers agree?

Roarke aggressively commands Eve to let go of herself when she’s with him. He is convinced that her hesitancy to pursue a relationship has something to do with him when, shocker, it does not. Even if it did, it should merit a yellow-light response from him, rather than a green-light response. If Eve is dealing with something so difficult that she has trouble looking Roarke in the eye when they are intimate maybe, just maybe, he shouldn’t force her to confront whatever demons are haunting her before she is ready.

The only plausible reason I can come up with as to why Eve is putting up with Roarke’s gross behavior is because he got her real, honest-to-goodness dark roast coffee. I can only imagine that if I hadn’t had a real coffee in years, I might also fall hard for the guy who managed to get me not just a cup but a whole bag of the good stuff. Coffee = life.

In all seriousness, it was hard to enjoy some parts of this book because of those discrepancies between Eve and Roarke. I definitely think Eve was made to do things she wasn’t ready for, and even if she and Roarke develop a healthy relationship down the line, this is not how healthy relationships start. I always take issue with things like this especially when they are not aptly addressed in a book.

Despite all of this and at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I did like the book. The writing is excellent and the setting is unique. I love crime/mysteries so there’s a good chance I’ll continue with the series. Only 49 more books to go before I’m caught up…!

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