THE COLLECTOR – Nora Roberts
A Perfect 10
G.P. Putnam's Sons (Hardcover)
New York City – Present Day
As the daughter of an Army officer, Lila Emerson grew up moving often, which meant being the new kid in school a lot, and also being without a father much of the time. Of necessity, Lila became self sufficient. Her parents are now retired in Alaska and she's on her own. Lila is a professional house sitter who writes on the side, or she's a writer working on a sequel to her popular teen fantasy novel who also house sits. Either way, she's an independent young woman of twenty-eight who takes prides in taking care of herself. She loves both careers. Her house sitting gives her a chance to see new places and meet new people. She's a friendly person with an open mind and heart. As this story opens, she's living in an upscale apartment in New York's Chelsea district, minding the place and the cat. She enjoys sitting on the balcony observing the neighborhood and watching the neighbors enjoying their own terrace. People-watching is a favorite activity; her creative mind makes up stories about them. Lila often watched the volatile couple across the way spat and make up, but not this morning. It was going on for two in the morning and she couldn't sleep. She picked up her binoculars and saw the attractive blonde near her window with tears in her eyes, watched as she was struck and struck again. She jumped to get her phone to call 911 and then saw the woman come through the window and fall to her death.
Ashton Archer has no illusions about the way his charming brother could sometimes come close to crossing an ethical line, but no way will he ever believe Oliver could strike a woman or commit a murder, much less kill himself. After talking to police at the station, he saw the witness to the woman's death and caught up to her. He persuaded her to help him find the truth that would surely clear his brother of the crime. He finds she didn't really see more than a man's arm that night. Ash is sure it was a double murder, not murder and suicide.
I was eager to read THE COLLECTOR but had to be up early in the morning, so I gave myself two hours to get started. Ha! It was nearly double that before I slept. But as I read in the following days—yes, days—an odd thing happened. I had to slow down. It was like enjoying the finest of desserts that needs savoring, so rich in plot, dialogue, and characters is this wonderful book. Ms. Roberts bares the minds and hearts of Lila and Ash as they follow a trail that will lead them to danger and adventure searching for the cause of it all, a treasure created for a Russian tsar. That lost treasure figures prominently in the tale, not only as the impetus to our protagonists' travels, but as a fascinating story of its own. Every page is a small masterpiece.
Though Lila has no family nearby, she has a best friend and a most interesting Gypsy-like life. In contrast, Ash, who is a successful artist, has a large extended family with many siblings: full, half, and step. We get to know many of the characters well, notably Lila's friend Julie and Ash's friend Luke. We also get a chilling peek into the mind of a killer.
I haven't read nearly all of Nora Roberts's 200 novels, but know only that I consider this the best I've ever read. Not only is it suspenseful, but it's highly entertaining and romantic as well. It's more than worthy of RRT's Perfect 10 rating. I wish I could give it a Perfect 100.