Saturday, May 9, 2009

Two for the Dough - Janet Evanovich

1996; 312 pages. A Stephanie Plum novel. A "Lula" recommendation, which is much more reliable than an "Oprah" recommendation. Genre : Crime; Beach Novel. Overall Rating : B..

    Fledgling bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has two jobs : looking for bail-jumper Kenny Mancuso and finding 24 stolen bargain-bin caskets. Joe Morelli and Ranger are around for hunk-appeal. Lula finds filing at Vinnie's better than walking the streets. And Grandma Mazur packs a pistol, appoints herself Stephanie's partner, and becomes the worst nightmare for all funeral parlors in New Jersey.
What's To Like...
    If you enjoyed One For The Money, then you'll happily find 2FTD is more of the same. There's witty banter; a couple of plot twists to keep you on your toes; a realistic bounty hunting portrayal (lots of sitting and waiting), and a plucky heroine determined to make it in a tough neighborhood. The sexual tension between Plum and Morelli flows nicely through the whole book, without ever sinking into "Chick Fic" territory. There is the obligatory nude scene with an unexpected climax. Finally, there is Grandma Mazur, a spinster with a 'tude, and who frankly steals the show.

.OTOH...Most of the role players here are black or white. If they don't hit it off with Stephanie, you can pretty much write them down as being baddies. There are some believability issues (repeated appendage slicing at the funeral homes; the bad guys missing Granny's concealed weapon, etc.) and some unresolved loose ends (Steph's jeep gets stolen, stays stolen, and no one seems too concerned).
I'm going to the beach. What book should I take?If James Patterson's Alex Cross books are airport novels, then Stephanie Plum books are beach novels. Something to pass the time while working on one's tan. There's nothing deep, but it is satisfyingly entertaining. Ten years from now, you won't recall any of the details about Two For The Money, but you will remember that you enjoyed it.
An excerpt...
"Bars, funeral homes, bakeries, and beauty parlors form the hub of the wheel that spins the burg. Beauty parlors are especially important because the burg is an equal-opportunity neighborhood caught in a 1950's time warp. The translation of this is that girls in the burg become obsessed with hair at a very early age. The hell with coed peewee football. If you're a little girl in the burg, you spend your time combing out Barbie's hair. Big gunky black eyelashes, electric-blue eye shadow, pointy outthrust breasts, and a lot of platinum-blond phony-looking hair. This is what we all aspire to." (pg. 149)

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