Putnam / April 15, 2014 / $27.95 print, $14.99 digital
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . . .
In a direct nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window, Nora Roberts starts us on an adventure that will take us around Manhattan, includes a dash out to Long Island, and a quick hop over to Italy to find antique treasures and keep them out of the hands of The Collector.
Lila Emerson is both a writer and a house sitter. She is available for any length of stay and will gladly take care of your plants, your fish, your dog or cat. House sitting allows her the freedom to write without having to be a starving artist. She has the most fun staying in the center of NYC where there is so much to see. Part of being a writing is making up stories and people watching through her trusty binoculars is both entertaining and gives her an opportunity to indulge her imagination. The little boy on the tenth floor who just got a new puppy who will always be his best friend, what great adventures they will have. The half-naked man dancing on twelve must obviously be an actor working nights as an exotic dancer until he get his big break. And Blondie and Mr. Slick on fourteen are all dressed up to go out and are having another fight. This time, Lila is shocked to watch the beautiful woman take a punch to the face. As she grabs for the phone to call 911, she hears the window break and watches the woman fall the fourteen floors to her death.
“I like to watch people, think up stories about them. It’s spying.” She said flatly. “I don’t think of it that way, honestly don’t mean it that way, but it’s spying. It’s just…all those windows are like little worlds.”
Waterstone took the glasses, held them up as he studied the building. “You’ve got a pretty good eye line.”
“They fought a lot, or had intense conversations, made up a lot.”
“Who?” Fine asked.
“Blondie and Mr. Slick. I named them that.”
Lila is doing all that she can to help the police to identify the man involved, and she is happy when they pull out a photo of the sexy boyfriend, hoping he is already in their custody. The police have Oliver Archer alright. They are already bringing him to the morgue. He took his own life after pushing Sage Kendall out of the window.
But not everyone is ready to believe the tidy package of murder/suicide. Oliver’s brother,Asher Archer, knows his brother was a screw up who was always looking for the big score, but he was never violent, and if he got into a jam, he would never commit suicide. He would call big brother Ash to make everything alright.
“You think I can’t accept my brother could kill, then kill himself. It’s not that. It’s that I know he couldn’t. We weren’t close. I hadn’t seen him in months, and then only briefly.”
Sorrow fell into him again like stones. “He was a pain in the ass,” Ash continued. “An operator without the killer instinct it takes to be an operator. A lot of charm, a lot of bullshit, and a lot of big ideas without any practical sense of how to bring them around. But he wouldn’t hit a woman.”
She’d watched the, he remembered. “You said they argued a lot. Did you ever see him hit her, push her?”
“I don’t care if he was stoned or drunk or both, he wouldn’t hit a woman. He wouldn’t kill a woman. He’d never kill himself. He’d believe whatever he’d gotten sucked into, someone would pull him out again. An eternal optimist, that was Oliver.”
She wanted to be careful; she wanted to be kind. “Sometimes we don’t know people as well as we think.”
But it doesn’t take the M.E. long to confirm that Ash is right. Someone tried very hard to set the scene, but there is no doubt from the amount of drugs and booze in his system that Oliver was already unconscious before the trigger was pulled.
At first Ash just wanted Lila’s help to find out what she saw that night. Now she can’t walk away from the pain she feels radiating from Ash over the loss of his brother. She will do whatever she can to help find out why someone would kill Oliver and Sage.
But they never would have suspected the answer they received. Oliver’s new job working at his uncle’s antique shop has taught him how to recognize priceless artifacts, and Oliver has found something work tens of millions of dollars. Just the type of priceless treasure that a certain man would carelessly spill blood to possess. The type of man who you shouldn’t try to double cross for more money.
Now that he believes that Ash and Lila are holding onto his treasure, he has set his assassin out to collect it from them. They need to hurry and locate it soon, because if they aren’t able to turn it over, the next ones to pay in blood will be Ash and Lila.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Collector by Nora Roberts, available on April 15, 2014:
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.