Friday, September 26, 2008

Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series

Posted by lea at 10:54 AM

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is utterly enjoyable. After losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a B-grade department store, Stephanie is forced to become a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie's bail bonding business in order to pay the rent. With a combination of dumb luck, intuition and a lot of help from the mysterious Ranger and on-again-off-again cop boyfriend Joe Morelli, she manages to catch the bad guy and keep from being blown to bits in some very close calls.

With a plethora of zany characters (lycra spandex-loving, plus-size bestie Lula who's an ex-ho-turned-filing-clerk and overly-curious, adventurous grandma Mazur, to name just two), this series of novels is truly entertaining. It's better than your average chicklit detective novel, full of funny moments, climactic situations and a whole lot of sexual tension. And best of it, each book actually has a really well-thought out plot. Stephanie's a likeable character who's endearing and quite relatable - she's perpetually broke, has a weakness for junk food and occasionally has trouble doing the top button of her jeans - except perhaps for the fact that she tends to blow up cars and tackle bad guys.

It's one of those series that you wish would just keep going - and it does. At the time of writing this review, Evanovich has released 14 Stephanie Plum novels. The upside is that you want more each time you read one and she delivers each time, but the downside is that it gets a bit predictable - we know Stephanie's going to catch the bad guy and we know that she'll never be able to make up her mind between Morelli and Ranger. It's a quandary because if she DID finally decide to put the holster down and take up with one of the men in her life, you'd be totally disappointed, yet her lack of personal progress can also be frustrating.

The great thing about it is that when you want a quick, enjoyable, laugh-out-loud read, you can go back and pick up any one of the books and it's like a bite-sized piece of chocolate that hits the spot. I've been going back and forth, up and down the line of series for ages now (a few years at least) and was prompted to write this entry only because I found book #1 at St Vinnies (got it second hand for $2 - what a bargain) and read and enjoyed it all over again. It's funny seeing how Ranger has progressed from being a competent commando-style Latino bounty hunter to this laconic dark man of mystery - a cross between Batman and sex on legs.

My only word of advice is don't bother with the other Evanovich novels because they're just not as good - especially not the ones where she collaborates with another author. Stay far away. Stick with Plum.

Series titles:
One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Hard Eight
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Lean Mean Thirteen
Fearleass Fourteen

Holiday Novellas:
Visions of Sugar Plums
Plum Lovin'


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