I have been a fan of Janet Evanovich since I read the first Stephanie Plum novel. It was a nice little fun mystery about the world’s worse bounty hunter. Then again, I’m not sure Stephanie is good at much of anything, except for her inability to decide on a guy. Of course, I’m a fan of Ranger, but I suppose Morelli will do. That is provided Stephanie can actually stick to one of them. You’d think by now she’d at least be able to do that, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me jump back and give you a bit of a run down. If you’ve never read a Stephanie Plum novel before, they’re good up to about Top Secret Twenty-One or Tricky Twenty-Two. The basis of each book is that Stephanie Plum is working for her cousin’s, Vinnie’s, bail bond company as a bounty hunter. In the beginning she learned from the best: tall, dark, and sexy-as-hell Ranger. Ranger now has his own security company, but he still bails Stephanie out regularly. Then there’s the hot Italian Joe Morelli, who is a detective with the Jersey Police and also bails Stephanie out regularly.
Like I said, she isn’t the best bounty hunter. In fact, a lot of her FTAs (Failure to Appear) get away for one reason or another. Usually they outsmart her. She has a gun with no bullets that stays in an empty cookie jar. Although she did learn how to use it, she rarely does. Ranger took her to the shooting range and taught her, but she refuses to carry it. Instead, her grandmother and sidekick, Lula, carry. And neither can shoot very well. Did I mention Stephanie’s a bit of a hot mess?
Now that you’ve got a little history, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Each book deals with a new major FTA that Stephanie has to chase down, arrest and take back to jail so they can get re-bonded. There are always one or two small ones throughout the story too. So what changes? What landed the FTA in jail to begin with, which of course impacts the kind of trouble Stephanie is likely to find herself in. And while I always expect Plum to get her man in the end, the story comes from our amusement at the misadventure she has in the process.
That changed with Turbo Twenty-Three. I saw the story had started to go down hill, but I thought hey, it’s Stephanie Plum. I expect her to be a little on the insane side. I just didn’t expect her to dry up. And honestly, that’s how I feel about Hardcore Twenty-Four. I feel like Hollywood came up and regurgitated something that’s been done before, except it was the author, not Hollywood.
For the first time since I picked up One for the Money did I actually feel like I knew what was going to happen. It was supposed to be snakes, headless bodies, and zombies. Oh my! But it was more like, oh brother. The zombies, obviously, weren’t real. It was a drug making people act like zombies. The best part was when Stephanie hit one with her car. (Hot mess, remember?) The headless bodies that kept turning up would’ve been better if she had come across at least one because she stumbled on it by accident. Then I would’ve gotten a good laugh. But that didn’t happen. And the problem with the big ass boa constrictor was that it was solved a little too quickly for my taste. Not to mention, the supposed big bad, didn’t even make an appearance until the very end of the book. What?!
I suspect this is why it (1) took me four days to read and (2) I kept falling asleep. I was bored out of my mind! There really wasn’t a whole lot of funny to this book. And usually if Stephanie doesn’t come through, then I can count on Lula to make me laugh. And that only happened twice in over 300 pages.
As if that wasn’t enough, for some reason, Plum was more sentimental than usual. I have the expectation that she will either (a) do something stupid or (b) fall on her ass. Instead, she felt sorry for all three FTAs. It makes me wonder if Evanovich was trying to show that Stephanie could somehow evolve.
If that’s the case, then I think it would make more sense if Stephanie evolved when it came to her love life. I expect her to act a little slutty. I mean she has two hot guys who want to sleep with her, one she actually calls “boyfriend.” And I use the term loosely. But throwing a third guy in the mix was too much.
Needless to say, I went in with certain expectations and unlike Stephanie, I left unfulfilled. I’m not sure if I’m ready to quit Plum, but I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to buy the next book. Provided Evanovich can figure out how to keep the series going. It may be time for Stephanie Plum to find a new job.
Rating: 2.5 stars