[Trigger warning for sensitive material mentioned below.]
I first started the Stephanie Plum series many years ago – probably at least 10. I was recently looking for some light reading when I was going through an emotionally challenging time, and since I recalled the series being pretty light and many of the books are in my bookcase, I went ahead and grabbed the first one: One for the Money.
The premise is that Stephanie lost her job several months ago and hasn’t been able to find a new one. She’s running extremely short on funds and has had to sell furniture and appliances, and her car gets repossessed. She decides to work for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman. If she brings in Joe Morelli, a cop who is wanted for murder of an unarmed man, she’ll net $10,000. The book details her attempts to catch Morelli, with whom she has a bit of history, and unravel the mystery related to Morelli’s murder charge.
Had I been in a different head space, I might have liked it more. To be fair, a lot of it is fairly light-hearted. There are some interesting characters with entertaining dialogue (e.g., Grandma Mazur), and I enjoyed seeing Stephanie slowly learn more about being a bail bondswoman (although she never really seems to improve in later books, if I remember correctly).
But, there’s a rapist in the book. He tries to assault Stephanie, he stalks her, and off screen he assaults other women. I’d forgotten about that part and might not have turned to this for my light reading if I’d remembered. Also, there’s a part where Morelli essentially threatens rape, though he seems to think he’s doing it jokingly. He has Stephanie handcuffed in her bathroom (it was relatively innocuous; he broke in while she was showering and wanted to keep her from getting in the way while he searched her apartment for something). But before he leaves, he leers at her and says “You’re lucky I’m a gentleman. There are individuals out there who’d take advantage of a woman in your situation.” That part just really left a sour taste in my mouth. Especially since he knew about the attempted assault.
I did enjoy the book and plan to revisit the rest of the series, which hopefully isn’t quite as sinister as parts of this one were, so I would recommend it. Just be prepared for some difficult sections.