Friday, 10 September 2004

Nora Roberts & J.D. Robb: Rembember When (2003)

Edition: Piatkus, 2003
Review number: 1264

This is an extremely unusual collaboration - because J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts under a pseudonym. The reasoning behind billing the novel like this is quite simple, however: under the two names, she writes stories within different genres. Roberts is the name she uses to write romantic thrillers, and Robb is used for her science fiction detective series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas. The story here comes in two parts; in the first half we have a romantic thriller about a diamond robbert, and in the second Eve Dallas investigates a murder connected to a best-selling book describing the old robbery written by the grand daughter of the central characters from the first part.

Though this might sound rather like a gimmick, it actually works rather well, with a lot of the background later used in the Eve Dallas story told in the contemporary tale rather than holding up the action to explain how the earlier robbery had worked. It adds some interest to a story that would otherwise be nothing particularly special, entertaining though each part might happen to be. (Roberts is definitely a writer who produces enjoyable but not profound literature.) Each part is pretty typical of the other novels produced by Roberts under the appropriate name, and is a well written if not terribly original example of its genre.

The nature of this supposed collaboration is such that one of the little games that the reader often finds themselves playing while reading something produced by two well known authors is not possible - that is, trying to pick up clues as to who is responsible for what. But the idea of a collaboration with oneself is unusual enough and the writing good enough that this is an entertaining and most enjoyable light read.

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