Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Plum Hilarious: Seven Up by Janet Evanovich


No one will ever accuse Janet Evanovich of writing "for the ages." Stephanie Plum, her high-attitude, New Jersey bond enforcement agent (bounty hunter), is a loose cannon primed to go off in the presence of a hot guy. Plum's disfunctional family, her up-and-down relationship with local cop Joe Morelli, and long-standing feud with Joyce Barnhardt provide plenty of opportunity for hilarity, but little in the way of philosophic musing.

So how did I wind up connecting with this book, Seven Up? I blame my sister-in-law, who kept telling me I'd enjoy it. When she loaned me her copy, I thought, hey, it's free—how can I go wrong?

Now I'm hooked. I haven't had this much pure fun reading a book since I tucked into Dave Barry's Big Trouble. Stephanie Plum may not have a cane toad, but she does have Bob, a hound of gargantuan, um, by-products, which Plum uses to advantage in her one-up sparring with her enemy Joyce. Bob fuels his efforts by eating anything that isn't larger than his head. (Though Stephanie worries that one day Bob will figure out how to do that, and that will be the end of her sofa.)

In Seven Up, Plum's main assignment is to bring in a seventy-year-old, nearly-blind miscreant who skipped his court date. Eddie DeChooch was smuggling a truckload of cigarettes to New York City when he was arrested as he "took a leak." DeChooch is a wizard at evading Plum, even when she has the help of Lula, the giantess. Lula "used to be a ho," but now works (when she pleases) as a bounty hunter. DeChooch also skips past the enigmatic (and thoroughly hot) Ranger, and even gives Joe Morelli the slip.

Plum's problems are compounded by the disappearance of Dougie "The Dealer" Kruper and his pot roast, as she learns from Dougie's friend Walter "MoonMan" Dunphy. "Mooner" is a riot all by himself, from the moment he appears in the story, dressed in silver spandex "super-hero" duds, crooning "Dude" to one and all. Then Plum gets pitched into a wedding-gown-fitting and her upcoming nuptuals are being choreographed by her Mom and Grandma before she and Joe are really sure they even want to live together.

Meanwhile, DeChooch is scooting around town in a white Cadillac that belongs to Mary Maggie the mud wrestler—Plum's encounter with her at the sleazy bar where she performs is gooey good fun. Then there's Bennie and Ziggy, two goons who keep breaking into Stephanie's apartment, and Joe Morelli's grandmother's "evil eye," and the crazy-eyed Sophia DeStefano, widow of the recently-deceased mobster Louis D. Oh, and Plum's "perfectly married" sister, Valerie, who comes home to New Jersey and decides to become a lesbian. And a pig heart in a cooler.

It's all fun. It reads fast. Only problem is, now I have to go get the previous six, and the next four. Either that, or join Plum Anonymous.

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