Nora Roberts has quite a knack for making her characters sound like real people. I almost always enjoy her books, because the dialogues in them are so realistic—I can easily imagine some of my friends acting and speaking exactly as her characters do. No matter how unusual a plot might be, if the story is about real people, I’m ready to read that book. The Collector began as I expected—full of realistic and rather likeable characters. If only the plot had been equally well done.
Lila Emerson is a house sitter and an author in her free time. I found this interesting, having never read about (or met) a house sitter before. Lila is staying in a cute little apartment in New York City, watching the world go by, when she witnesses a murder. A woman in a nearby apartment (one Lila can see into from her balcony) is pushed out a window and falls to the street far below. Lila immediately calls the police, and quickly finds herself involved in a murder investigation.
Ashton Archer, famous painter, is the brother of Oliver Archer, who is the main suspect in the murder investigation. Unfortunately, Oliver is dead as well—it initially appears that he committed suicide after murdering his girlfriend. Ash is at the police station to pick up his brother’s things when he encounters Lila. Realizing she witnessed the murder, he begs her to just have coffee with him and tell him some about it. He simply cannot believe that his brother could have killed someone.
Ash and Lila hit it off, and begin hanging out together on a regular basis. When the police discover that Oliver could not have been the person who killed his girlfriend (the drugs in his system prove he was already unconscious), a whole new can of worms gets opened up. Ash and Lila feel compelled to play a part in the investigation—regardless of the fact that neither one of them has any training whatsoever. They soon discover why Oliver and his girlfriend were killed and decide (quite rashly, in my opinion) to deal with the problem themselves.
That right there—Ash and Lila’s ridiculous belief that they can deal with a murderer without the help of the police—was one of my biggest problems with this book. I understand wanting to get revenge on your own. But actually doing it? That’s where The Collector stopped being a story about real people and turned into a story about a couple of silly characters far too convinced of their own invincibility. I think normal people would have gotten the police involved long before Ash and Lila did.
In addition to this issue, I found myself less than satisfied with the mystery plot. I’ve read books by Ms. Roberts that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I’ve seen her pull out a major plot twist at the last minute which changes the outlook of the entire story. The villain in this piece was far from her best. Although there were sections written from the villain’s point of view, I never felt like I got a sense of who the villain really was. Most of the elements of a good mystery seemed to be somewhat lacking here, to my dismay.
Due to these problems, I wasn’t exactly thrilled by The Collector. The romance is a good one—Lila comes from a strict military background, while Ash grew up in an indulgent, upper-class family. They have adjustments to make when they begin getting involved with each other, and that was fun to read. However, there is more to Romantic Suspense than just romance. Perhaps this wouldn’t have bothered me so if it had been another author writing this book. I cannot say for sure. All I know is that Nora Roberts is capable of writing a book far superior to this one. The Collector isn’t bad, but it’s not of her usual caliber.