Original Year of Publication: 1994
Paperback Page Count: 287
Genre: Mystery, Chick Lit
My family has a long history with Janet Evanovich. It started out with my aunt reading Stephanie Plum--she's a big mystery lover. Eventually, my mother was turned onto the Stephanie Plum series, and it wasn't long before I wanted in on it. But I was, of course, apparently too young for them. Honestly, I doubt my mother would have had any qualms with the books if it weren't for my aunt's horror that I was sneaking a page every now and then. Finally, I got my hands on the first installment.
Summary: Stephanie Plum, New Jersey native and Hungarian-Italian halfbreed, is out of a job. In desperation, she takes a position offered by her cousin Vinnie and becomes a supposedly temporary bounty hunter. Never mind that she's afraid to fire a gun; she just wants the ten percent cut of the bond. Her first job is Joe Morelli, a cop who's wanted for murder--the same Joe Morelli who got Stephanie's virginity fourteen years before while she was selling him a pastry. Not at all sure that Morelli is guilty, Stephanie tangles with a sadistic boxer, a master bounty hunter named Ranger, and her grandmother, who likes guns and funeral parlors.
This is quite possibly the funniest book I've ever read. From the very first page, when Stephanie is describing her past encounters with Morelli--at age six, sixteen, and nineteen--she pulled me in. I love it when you can read a book and, without looking at the title, know who's talking. There could be multiple points of view, and you'd still know who is what. I think of characters like Stephanie as definite characters. They aren't wishy-washy; they're like real people.
Stephanie isn't the only person worth reading about. As great as her adventures are, they wouldn't be half as good without Ranger and Morelli. Ranger's just plain hilarious, from his "bilingual tendencies" to the fact that he apparently makes licenses to carry concealed weapons in his basement. I found both him and Morelli adorable, to be quite honest, though I'm well aware of a love triangle already springing. Morelli's chemistry with Stephanie is very hot, and kept me on the edge of my seat. However, I didn't put romance up there in "genres", because I don't think that this is a romance. It is chick lit to me, because it's too light to be a heavy, hard core mystery, what with its comedy and romance, but it barely qualifies.
I could write an entire post about Grandma Mazur. I want her as my grandmother. She is the coolest old woman I have ever encountered, even if she is fictional. She's firing guns at the kitchen table with houseguests watching. She's talking about the hookers she saw on TV. She's making Stephanie's dad retreat to the TV with one backhanded comment. She is brilliant.
On to the mystery. I'm not a big mystery fan, so I was more focused on the characters than the story. I didn't follow it very well, but it passed. I loved that Evanovich could accomplish grisly scenes without going into too much detail. She didn't describe anything overly much, and I was grateful. Frankly, I think that descriptions that go beyond the norm are tiresome in mysteries, and seem clinical. Stephanie is in the moment; she's not analyzing what she sees with experience.
The mystery was aided by the setting, which was very vivid for me. I've never been to New Jersey, but it felt somehow authentic to me. The cops aren't perfect, the housewives want to be, and there are a lot of Italians related to a lot of people. Every other character is Stephanie's cousin, it seems. Or her best friend. The whole vibe was marvelously colorful.
Four and a Half out of Five Stars: Is it brilliant writing? No. Is it a hardboiled cop mystery? No. It's a story about a woman who really has no clue what she's doing, a few creepy guys thrown in there, a family who keeps banging their heads against the table, and a couple of hot guys. Not to mention tons and tons of laughs. I laughed out loud. No wonder the books are so addictive! I ignored my "serious" reading and went straight to book number two in the series, which, thankfully, was available in the house. I can't wait to read the rest of the series, and I recommend it to just about anyone!
Similar Books: Honestly? The Metro Girl books by Janet Evanovich; I did read one of those.
Also by this Author: Above stated, and like, fifteen Stephanie Plum books.
Up Next: Not sure.