What ‘in Death’ Taught Me About Livening Up Character Arcs

The ‘in Death’ series is written by Nora Roberts under her pseudonym of J. D. Robb and has been my main reading focus for weeks now. I’ve hit the twenty-second of the forty-some Eve Dallas police procedurals.

The advantage of reading a series this long term is it makes subplots and supporting character arcs that much easier to see. Ms. Roberts doesn’t flesh out every supporting cast member to the same degree.  Some remain fairly static, some grow along with the main character and some help flesh out the main character.

Officer/Detective Peabody—is pulled from the street, upgraded to a homicide detective’s aide then slowly earns a position as a homicide detective and partner to the main character, Eve Dallas. So far, she has helped show how the police department has evolved, how they use the new policing methods in place, and how the average human being thrives in New York City in the 2050s.

Roarke—multi-billionaire that falls in love with Eve Dallas in the first book. He is a hard character to nail down, and is the main source of emotional conflict.  Adding a love life interferes with her investigations, breaks up the hard shell of a cop, and puts her into socially awkward situations.  He also shows how deeply she feels for the victims and how determined she is to find the killer. To the point of breaking the law when necessary and running herself down to the point of becoming ill.

Dr. Mira—forensic psychiatrist who moves from profiling killers to a good friend and mother figure. She helps show how Eve walks in the shoes of the killer and how deeply she understands the murderer. With Dr. Mira the reader learns about Eve’s horrific past that has scarred her beyond repair.

Because of the series size the supporting cast has specialized jobs. I’ve come to appreciate the work involved making this series fresh, fleshed out and a fun read. There are many more characters than the few I’ve mentioned.  Without them Eve Dallas would appear to be a heartless, tormented, hero that seeks out the killer without mercy. This is true but with her supporting cast she is so much more.

What if any series to do you read? Anything that I should know about them?

16 responses to “What ‘in Death’ Taught Me About Livening Up Character Arcs

  1. Good to know. One day I might have to start this series. I wasn’t sure about such long series of books, but I’m seeing a few that I might like to try Great post!

  2. One of my favorite’s is the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine. I never thought vampires could be spun in such a new and interesting way, but I love physics and Rachel Caine explores so many new directions my head spins with possibility in each of her books.

  3. “Without them Eve Dallas would appear to be a heartless, tormented, hero that seeks out the killer without mercy. This is true but with her supporting cast she is so much more.” This statement is both insightful and thought provoking. You’re so right to point out that supporting characters offer opportunities for authors to show the different sides of MC’s personality. Great stuff, Em.

  4. This sounds like a great series. I’ve never read and of her books. But I heard her books are great. Should probably start. 🙂 Totally adding this series in my tbr,

  5. This sounds like a great series. Thanks for sharing
    I love book series because you can learn so much about the characters 🙂 and spporting characters are always important.

  6. Love me some JD Robb. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews has changed my life. It made me want to be a writer.

  7. I think they help soften her, I am so behind on this series, but love her characters, arcs and sub-plots.

  8. I’m not a big series reader, actually, or haven’t been up to this point. But you might have converted me, this sounds great!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

    • Totally understand not liking some series. It is all in how it’s done. Too many are done very badly and I drop the author if I’m burned once.

      Too many stories out there waiting to be read. 🙂

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