The Collector by Nora Roberts

Although it reads more like a cozy mystery than a suspenseful thriller, The Collector by Nora Roberts is another great book by an author who to date has written 184 New York Times bestsellers - including 33 written as J.D. Robb, as her website proudly proclaims. The first character we meet in her latest bestseller is Lila Emerson, a professional house sitter and writer of young adult novels, as she settles into her latest client's swanky New York apartment while they head off to the south of France for three weeks. One night Lila witnesses something horrible while looking out the apartment window (Remind you of the movie Rear Window?) and is soon drawn into a world of murder, mystery and priceless antiques.

Lila grew up as an army brat and moved numerous times during her childhood so her house sitting career fits her lifestyle perfectly. Every few weeks she moves to another glamorous new location and has no tedious responsibilities such as rents or mortgages or utility bills. She loves to people watch and spends a good deal of time watching the world out the windows of her clients' homes through her binoculars. As a writer, she likes to make up stories about the lives of the people she observes in the neighboring buildings, and, as a house sitter, there are always new windows to peek into. Lila spends the first week in her latest client's apartment watching the interesting people across the courtyard. She especially enjoys watching the drama unfold between the glamorous couple on the fourteenth floor. They both look like models, and continuously seem to do nothing but fight and make up. One sleepless night, Lila is horrified to see the woman being beaten, and then pushed out the window to fall to her death. She reports the crime to the police, who also find the body of the woman's boyfriend in the apartment and it appears to be a murder-suicide.

As Lila leaves the police station after giving her statement she meets Ashton Archer, the deceased boyfriend's half-brother. Ashton doesn't believe Lila's or the police's account of events. He is positive his half-brother Oliver would never murder anyone. He convinces Lila to have coffee with him across the street from the police station and to reexamine what she witnessed. When Lila realizes she couldn't clearly identify the man who pushed the woman out of the window, they join forces to try to uncover what really happened and their relationship begins to evolve into more than a casual acquaintance. Ashton soon discovers that Oliver was in possession of one of the famous Fabergé eggs. Danger abounds as a mysterious collector is hell-bent on owning it, no matter the cost or consequences. A deadly, dangerous and beautiful Asian hitwoman enters the picture determined to locate the missing Fabergé egg on behalf of her employer. Unfortunately for Ashton and Lila, she is determined to eliminate any and all "loose ends". What unfolds is a series of dangerous and exciting events, all leading up to a satisfying conclusion.

I think Lila resembles a character seen in many of the author's previous books. She's competent and caring, with a few endearing quirks. The hero is familiar as well - not only gorgeous and rich, but talented with a large family. In Nora Roberts's typical style, The Collector shows us what extreme lengths some people are willing to go to get what they want.

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