Monday, July 11, 2005

Not Just for the Gals: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich


When I informed my sister-in-law that I was hooked on Stephanie Plum, she immediately loaned me her collection, with a cautionary question. "Are you sure you want to read and review these? They're really women's books." I'm here to tell you that, based on how much I enjoyed Seven-Up and now this first book in the series, One for the Money, you shouldn't let the women keep these books to themselves, guys!

Janet Evanovitch has created a corps of solid characters to inhabit "the burg," a vaguely residential area near Trenton, New Jersey. Stephanie Plum leads the list; in One, we learn why she became a bounty hunter (she ran out of things to pawn, and her pawn-broker cousin Vinnie had already hired a file clerk), we see the reason for her checkered relationship with cop Joe Morelli, and we meet for the first time her loony Grandma Mazur, the street-walker Lula, and her sinister tutor in all mayhem, Ranger. The burg itself is a character in these novels.
This was a community of extended families. There was safety here, along with love, and stability, and the comfort of ritual. The clock on the dash told me I was seven minutes late, and the urge to scream told me I was home... It was a small, tidy house crammed with kitchen smells and too much furniture, comfortable with its lot in life.

Just to widen the statistical sample, I loaned One to my spouse, and discovered that while we both frequently broke into laughter while reading it, we were often laughing at different things. And even though both of us cracked up over Grandma Mazur's shooting the Sunday roast chicken "right in the gumpy," I suspect we found it funny for different reasons. Ditto for the burg's favorite social occasion, visiting mortuaries to "view" the deceased, and Grandma Mazur's choice of bright blue cycling shorts as appropriate for an afternoon wake.

The introductory story has Stephanie Plum in her first bounty hunter assignment, to locate a cop on the run. It's Joe Morelli, who has disappeared after shooting an apparently unarmed man, and it's a big bounty, $10,000. Witnesses to the shooting tell of an onlooker, a strangely flat-faced man whom no one can identify. Even stranger, all the known witnesses who might identify the vanished flat-faced man, or testify that Morelli's victim was armed and trying to kill him, begin to have fatal accidents.

Trying to locate Morelli takes Plum into some fairly seedy parts of the burg. She rattles a boxer, Benito Ramirez, then learns he has a reputation for raping women (who then mysteriously disappear). Ramirez begins stalking Plum, who complains to his manager, an apologetic wimpy sort named Jimmy Alpha. Her efforts to stay alive and away from Ramirez are complicated by her need to look for Morelli, and her continuing money problems.

Plum's stubborn persistence in her quest to bring in Joe Morelli, and her willingness to do what it takes to succeed as a bounty hunter make her a very attractive hero for this series. Guys, I guarantee you'll enjoy both her peril (such as being hand-cuffed naked in her shower, and trying to decide who to phone for help) and her triumphs.

Along the way, perhaps you'll get a feel for the reason the gals have been buying all those Janet Evanovitch paperbacks.

Please join us at BlogCritics to comment on this review.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading One for the money. It is a very funny book and great to read for this time of the year. I cant wait to get my hands on the next one. I think any one who reads this would really enjoy the story. My sister has been telling me how good the books are and i finally got a chance to read one.

12/20/2005 8:33 AM  

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