Nora Roberts is highly underrated as a writer, perhaps because people mainly classify her as a romance writer.
Hopefully, her next novel The Collector will change those views. The Collector is a thriller through and through - it just happens to have a romantic element to it.
Lila Emerson is a writer and a house-sitter. There's nothing more she likes than exploring new places and meeting new people. While housesitting in a gorgeous New York apartment, Lila is witness to the murder of a beautiful young woman, who was supposedly attacked by her boyfriend. But when it's discovered that boyfriend was unconscious before the woman was pushed out of the window of her flat, Lila finds herself being pursued by a killer.
See, does that sound like a light-hearted novel to you? Perhaps when I add in that Lila teams up with the dead guy's handsome brother Ashton, you start to see where the romance might come in, but trust me when I say that the thriller and crime elements of the novel are what makes it.
As usual, Roberts' protagonists are well-formed and likeable, surrounded by a supporting cast who add breadth and depth to the world of Lila and Ash.
But what I really liked about The Collector was the glimpses Roberts gave the reader of the bad guys. Usually, Roberts' bad guys are largely shadowy figures who show up throughout the book but who we never find out more about until close to the end. This time, Roberts identified her killer early, and gave them a significant part in the proceedings, which made the danger seem that much more real and upped the stakes for Lila and Ash, and for the reader.
At just under 500 pages, The Collector is a long novel, but Roberts doesn't spend chapters babbling. Every word and scene is essential to the story, even those featuring secondary characters, because it all contributes to world-building.
The Collector is a really enjoyable read, and one that people should approach without preconceived notions about what sort of a writer Roberts is.
•The Collector is released in hardback on April 15, priced at £16.99.
How I got this book: From the publisher, Little, Brown. This did not affect my review.