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I’m a day late (and I’m always a dollar short, so that’s nothing new). Thanks to Labor Day and the sudden drop in summertime scheduling, I got this week thoroughly fouled up and thought yesterday was Tuesday. Today, oddly, feels like Friday, possibly because it’s raining for the third day in a row. Hmmm … curl up with a good book?
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By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s Press, 2010
There are times when only a Janet Evanovich will do, and a rainy Maine day usually is one of them. She’s written so many of her signature comedy-romance-thrillers—almost forty, at last count—that if you haven’t tripped over one of them already you will soon. And when that day comes you’d be well advised to stay right there on the floor and start reading.
Don’t start with this one, though.
It could be that I’m over-Evanoviched, so familiar with her formula that I’ve finally gone sour on her. Or maybe, as I thought when I read WICKED APPETITE a week or so ago, she’s reached the too-familiar stage when she’s so hot that nobody edits her anymore. (Not at all familiar to me, obviously. But Neil Gaiman commented a while back that editors aren’t as likely to challenge him now that he’s a hotshot, so he’s under more pressure to do his own quality-control.)
I cut my Evanovich teeth on the numbered Stephanie Plum novels, starting with ONE FOR THE MONEY. As of November, they’re up to EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN. It was always fun revisiting hapless New Jersey bounty-hunter Plum, her sidekick Lula the ex-hooker, her nutty Grandma Mazur, and her TWO love interests, Morelli the cop and Ranger the mysterious high-tech security consultant. The books are hysterical in places, sexy in others, with a comfortable level of nail-biting. Nevertheless, somewhere around ELEVEN ON TOP I stopped salivating and started just picking them up sporadically whenever I tripped over them. As I said, that’s easy to do—they’re everywhere.
Apparently there are a few unnumbered Stephanie Plums, with titles such as PLUM SPOOKY and PLUM LUCKY, and apparently they have a supernatural element. This book—a birthday present because it’s set in my old stomping grounds near Boston—is the start of a new series in which a couple of Stephanie’s unnumbered otherworldly friends harass a brand-new protagonist, uber-baker Lizzy Tucker. Also migrating from New Jersey is a highly intelligent monkey who keeps farting and giving people the finger.
It’s a quick read with lots of laughs and steamily delayed sexual gratification, Evanovich’s stock in trade. The supernatural plot is silly and sometimes too obviously engineered for comedy, but that I can forgive, even enjoy. The finale, however, is a wet firecracker, with the real conclusion clearly to come in later books. This is something new—as I recall, the Plum books always came to a satisfying conclusion—and struck me as cynical and slap-dash. Thinking about it now makes me sad and kind of tired.
I have to say, though, that a friend of mine read this one a few months back and saw nothing wrong with it. Maybe I am Evanoviched out. That really would be sad.