Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dumpsters and Dwarves: High Five by Janet Evanovitch


If I were Stephanie Plum, I think I would stay in bed. Janet Evanovitch's perennially-frustrated bounty hunter has a whole new set of headaches in High Five, not the least which is that her Grandma Mazur has a stun-gun she's entirely too fond of.

Stephanie's hunting for her penny-pinching Uncle Fred this time around, and there's no money in it. All she has to go on is a handful of snapshots showing a body in a plastic bag, found on Fred's desk. While she does this pro bono detecting at the behest of her Aunt Mabel, our girl needs something to keep body and soul together, of course, so she joins up with a company of men lead by her mentor Ranger.

The psycho-commando types Ranger commands have a commission to do what he describes to Plum as "interior decorating." This turns out to involve forcibly evicting a group of drug dealers and users from an apartment (in one case, through the second-story window), then preventing them from returning. Not only is this a lot more... vigorous work than Plum wants, but there's also the too-close presence of Ranger, who exudes the promise of kinky sex.

As if that wasn't enough, rapist-boxer Benito Ramirez has been released from prison, and begun stalking Stephanie again. Too many friendlier people seem able to walk right through her locked apartment door, too, so Ranger sets her up with a security system. It doesn't help her much, though, because a guy she hauls in to Vinnie's bail-bond recovery shop winds up living in her apartment. This vertically-chalenged felon is the only man in Plum's life who's not trying to bed her. He just wants a place to finish some contract programming.

Of course, the diminuitive programmer, the disappearing uncle, and several other issues in Plum's eccentric world are related. You sense that before the first person gets stunned by Grandma Mazur. For mysteries, though, the devil's in the details, and spinning these diverse elements into a cohesive and incredibly funny tale is where this author shines.

The thread of destroyed cars that began in Two for the Dough continues in this book. There's a black limousine (which explodes after Plum plays chauffeur), a black BMW (it also explodes), and a black Porsche (from Ranger, for which Lula shrewdly comments, "That's at least oral sex... Okay, truth is, it's beyond oral sex. It could be, you know, butt stuff..."). I nearly damaged myself laughing at one demolition, but I can't discuss it further without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that Plum is again driving the blue Buick more often than she wants.

With High Five, Evanovitch has successfully spun the characters in the New Jersey Burg into a fresh configuration, promising a long life for the series, and plenty of impending sex, nutty relatives, and bizarre bounty targets to come for Stephanie Plum. Plum amazing!

I've read One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, and Four to Score. I've also read Seven Up—that's the book that hooked me on Stephanie Plum!

Please join us at BlogCritics to comment on this review.


Post a Comment

<< Home