Lila leads a nomadic, luxurious life, moving from stylish penthouse to villa and back as a housesitter. Her commitments are few and her belongings can fit in a couple of suitcases. But Lila’s fascination with people – and her neighbors – turns her calm existence into one chaotic after she witnesses a murder.
Plot Overview: Faberge, Collections and Chance
While gazing through her binoculars one evening, Lila sees a woman the victim of violence. Gasping at the attack, Lila fumbles for her phone to dial 911. Before she can call, she looks across to her neighbor’s again, only to see the woman fall through a glass window to the ground 14 floors below. Shocked, Lila calls the police.
At the police station, Lila runs into Ashton Archer, wealthy brother of the deceased woman’s murdered boyfriend, Oliver. Ash accurately pegs Lila as the witness, and the two embark on an uneasy alliance that quickly turns romantic.
Meanwhile, Jai Maddok, a beautiful, cunning killer, searches for a cherished item for her employer. Her investigation leads her first to Lila and Ash, then Ash’s uncle, whom she and her associate promptly kill.
Stunned by the murders, Lila and Ash, as well as their respective best friends, Julie and Luke, try to untwist the mystery behind the killings and the beloved object: a lost Faberge egg that Oliver found. The resulting cat-and-mouse game between Jai and her employer and the band of friends crosses oceans, passes through mansions and eventually ends in a bloody standoff.
Criticisms and Compliments
Nora Roberts’ latest, The Collector, while highly anticipated, falls just short of the mark. On the plus side, the plot is less formulaic, and Roberts acknowledges her nod to “Rear Window” within the first few chapters. The problem, however, lies with some of the characters. Lila is a friendly, open and independent woman, and her vibrant personality helps propel the story forward; her romance with Ash does not. Rather, Ash appears shallower on the page, and the dynamics of their relationship can be frustrating. As with many of Roberts’ novels that focus on a couple (or couples) uniting against a common enemy, the men take charge, and the women – though they protest otherwise – fall in line because the men love them and want to protect them. Why do all romance-genre novels have to feature a man (one wealthy and physically strong) riding in white knight-style to rescue a helpless female? Does the woman, even if she’s not helpless, have to capitulate to a man’s “superior” know-how? Why not focus on a more equitable partnership?
Like Ash and Lila’s relationship, Julie and Luke’s connection is not as developed as it could be. Considering the connection between the four friends, the B plot between the gallery manager and the baker could have been a more substantial addition to the story. Similarly, in the first third of the story, Roberts includes Jai’s narrative, but it disappears as the story develops; had Roberts kept Jai’s perspective, the story could have had a little more suspense.
Overall, The Collector is worth a read, but the novel is not one of Roberts’ best.
Roberts, Nora. The Collector. Putnam Adult, 2014 ISBN 9780399164453