Analyzing Other Authors

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month, or maybe the month before, I started re-reading JD Robb’s In Death series and making notes. I also purchased all the books I didn’t have, so I now have an up-to-date library of the series. It’s important because I do go back and re-read books I love.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the books are futuristic police procedurals. Yes, there is romance, but the primary story is the police procedural. The cop (Eve Dallas) and the (reformed) con (Roarke).

I started an Excel worksheet with a spreadsheet for each title. I realized about half-way through the series that I should have made better notes. Now I’ll have to re-read all the titles again to make better spreadsheets.  Life is full of tribulations.

I started re-reading because I wanted to see how her Nora-ness handles an ensemble cast. My current WIP, which is unlike anything I’ve done before, has an ensemble cast of characters that confuses the dickens out of one of my critique partners. I keep trying to explain that I am not writing a romance and I’m not writing a small town series.

I’ve been amused and/or intrigued by the author’s vision of the future. The series starts in 2058. A couple of examples include:

  • Discs-Everyone transfers data to discs, which may have been the rage when the series began, but now it’s flash drives. I’m sure by 2058 there will be something else.
  • Talking Cars-Eve Dallas, the female protagonist, plugs addresses into her car and the dashboard gives her directions, etc. So does my car! I feel very Dallas-esque when my dash tells me, “Toll booth.”
  • Tubes of soft drinks-I love this idea, instead of cans or bottles.
  • Real cow/pig/chicken/egg/coffee/sugar-because of climate change these commodities are rare and thrilling to the characters, who get to partake because Roarke, the male protagonist is one of the wealthiest people on or off planet, frequently feeds Eve’s co-workers.
  • Off planet correctional facilities-putting prisons in space? Intriguing concept.

There are also inconsistencies that niggle, but nothing major.

  • At least two characters’ names change from book to book.
  • There is an assumption that because Roarke is Irish that he knows Catholicism. But Roarke’s upbringing certainly didn’t include the Church’s rites of passage, so he wouldn’t be as conversant as he sometimes is.
  • Eve mentions several times that religion wasn’t taught in the state orphanages in which she grew up, but sometimes, when she’s not asking Roarke questions, she does mention things that a person unfamiliar with Christianity might not know.

The best thing about the series is how the characters grow from book to book. They learn from their mistakes.

I had started another popular series of books around the same time my sister urged me to read JD Robb. I eventually stopped reading those books because the characters never changed. They were awesome characters in the beginning, but after 10 or books, I wanted to see them learning from their errors instead of the constant buffoonery to which the series evolved.