I thought I’d keep going with the Stephanie Plum series, til I either get bored and need a break or finish up all the ones I have.
For the uninitiated, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is about, you guessed it, Stephanie Plum, a divorcee who loses her job and goes to work for her cousin as a bounty hunter. She pretty consistently gets in over her head, ends up in danger or injured at various times, and as far as I can recall, she never really gets the hang of the job but does keep getting lucky at it.
In Two for the Dough, Stephanie is after a bail-jumper who shot his friend. Along the way she gets embroiled in a larger mystery (which is typically what happens) and has run-ins with Joe Morelli, a cop that Stephanie has a history with. In this case he wants to catch the bail-jumper first because he’s a cousin.
In Three to Get Deadly, Stephanie goes after Moses Bedemier, also known as Uncle Mo. For decades he has run a neighborhood candy and ice cream store and is considered a sweet man who would never do anything wrong, so his neighbors are not remotely interested in helping Stephanie when she canvasses the neighborhood. Once again, she finds out that her FTA (failure to appear) is part of a larger mystery, and once again she is somewhat working with Morelli – somewhat because he’s more likely to take information from her than to share any in return.
The hard part about writing this review, and probably any other reviews of the Stephanie Plum series, is that there isn’t much to say that’s different each time. Stephanie gets an FTA that is more difficult than expected and also nabs some more minor FTAs along the way to help pay bills as she tracks down the difficult one. She gets attacked or warned off the case. There is sexual tension with Morelli. There are family dinners in which her mom laments that she is a bounty hunter and Grandma Mazur provides colorful commentary. And in spite of some of the violence, the books are somewhat light, and they’re easy reads. I just feel like I could copy and paste these summaries in any review.
That’s not to say the books are bad, though. They’re good. I enjoy them, which is why I’m about to start book 4. There just isn’t much to say about them. Characterization is interesting, dialogue can be amusing, I like Stephanie’s love for her hamster Rex and her banter with other characters. Like I said they’re good and they’re entertaining. They’re just not great. An example of some of the amusing inner dialogue (at least to me) is when Stephanie is thinking, “I wasn’t such a bad person. I only cheated a little on my taxes, and I paid most of my bills. I didn’t cuss at old people (at least not to their faces)” (Three to Get Deadly, p. 112).
I will also add that there are some ways in which the novels aren’t aging well. These two were published in 1996 and 1997, and in each of them Stephanie makes a reference to more or less wishing she had bulimia. I think it’s just once for each novel, and I realize that this is a first person narrative and that what Stephanie is thinking is something that some women do think, and she also isn’t really endorsing it. For example, in Two for the Dough, she sees something so disturbing that she thinks she’s going to vomit so she races to the bathroom: “After a few minutes I decided I wasn’t going to throw up (which was kind of too bad since it’d be good to get rid of the hot fudge sundae I’d had with Mary Lou” (p. 167). But even if she isn’t really wishing for an eating disorder, I still think Evanovich can do better.