You asked about secondary characters in your last letter; I think the depth of the secondary characters is one of the things that has allowed J. D. Robb to continue this series as long as she has (30 and counting, plus the novellas) without sacrificing the pace or losing our interest. Each of the continuing characters she has introduced has continued to grow throughout the series. My favorite? Well, who doesn't love Mavis? But I think I'm going to opt for Charles Monroe, the Professional Companion who calls Eve “Lieutenant Sugar.” He has evolved from a potential suspect in Naked in Death to a close friend of the family, despite the fact that his profession squicks Eve out. I love that he has fallen in love with another secondary character (I'm not saying who, in case there's someone out there who hasn't yet read this series several times) and I love how this relationship changes him during the course of the series.
J. D. Robb also writes characters that appear in one book who I would like to see as continuing characters. Ariel Greenfeld springs to mind. She was the baker held and tortured in Creation in Death who greeted Eve with such guts when Eve finally rescued her. I know one of her cakes made an appearance in a later novel, but I'd really like to see Ariel again. Who else? Magdelena, Roarke's former lover from Innocent in Death, was a great character-you-love-to-hate. I probably don't want to see her come back, but I did enjoy Eve giving her her comeuppance at the end of the book. Well, maybe I'd like to see her come back for another dose.
That Magdelena tramp got exactly what she deserved, and I enjoyed (probably too much) watching Eve take her out. And Charles, the Professional Companion, is a sweetheart. Speaking of which, as much as her characters, I enjoy the world Robb created. The books are set in the 2050s—far enough in the future to be different and fresh (and allow me my rationalization that I'm not reading contemporary romance) but close enough to our time that it isn't completely foreign to us; we can still relate to the setting. It is interesting to see a version of our future and what has changed: medical advances, a ban on handguns, the legalization and regulation of prostitution, and, finally, those flying cars we'd been promised as children, though they are rare and seldom used. I love, love, love the auto-chef that pops out food at the touch of a button (not unlike in Star Trek) and long for one of my own. And I remember hooting for days when it was mentioned in a book that someone was checking into the Keith Richards Rehab Center.
But, despite technological breakthroughs, much remains the same: People are still people, and Eve, being a homicide cop, knows this all too well. As she says, people can always find a way to kill each other. While technology makes some parts of Eve's job easier, that human component is always at the forefront of each case. All of this makes what can seem like an alien world feel familiar.
I know you are using the “this is the future” argument to justify reading novels that are essentially contemporary. And I say, if it works for you, go for it. For if you hadn't done that, neither of us would have had the pleasure of this extraordinary series of books (#33 was just released recently!).
I guess I'd like to talk a little about the killers before we wrap this up. Eve doesn't deal with your average crime-of-passion killer. No, no. Every one of them is smart, psychotic, and a serial killer, and they all seem to want to engage Eve in their games. It never ceases to amaze me that I got through Naked in Death and actually went on to read the rest. Incest is one of my taboo subjects. The plot of Elizabeth George's A Great Deliverance kept me from ever reading another Inspector Lynley novel. But, although the villain skeeved me out (as do all the villains in this series, actually), I continue to gobble up the stories like a big pile of potato chips. This, I think, is a major testament to the character building of the primary and secondary characters that occurred from the very first book. I'll put up with these psycho killers just so I can get to spend time with Eve and Roarke and Feeney and Peabody and McNab. Oh, yes. And Charles and Mavis and the occasional Ariel Greenfeld. Bring them on.
Myretta Robens, Pemberley.com
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com