There are some authors who are the literature equivalent of a weekend away. They are easily digestible, low-stress, don’t require a lot of higher brain function, and are fine in occasional doses, but you wouldn’t want to do it too often. Janet Evanovich and the Stephanie Plum books fall squarely into that category for me.
Author in brief Janet Evanovich is an American crime writer. Wikipedia, personal page, and Amazon. She started off as a romance writer under a pseudonym, but came to fame when she moved to crime, winning several awards.
One for the Money is the first story in the Stephanie Plum series, which as of writing has nineteen primary titles and a variety of holiday-themed one-offs. It’s a little difficult for me to review, as I’ve read most of the series, and am quite familiar with the characters and the format of the books. (They might be just a little bit formulaic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it ties in with the weekend-away idea from above. They’re light and fluffy and able to be swallowed in a few days. Colin Forbes is another really good example of this, but to a greater extent. I’m sure that he does a global search-and-replace of a few words from title to title.) Back to the point: I’m going to try to balance what I know about the series as to what one might expect encountering the series for the first time.
The character cast is quite static: Stephanie Plum is a rather hopeless bounty hunter who muddles through a series of desperate situations. Joe Morelli, a Trenton New Jersey cop, is her occasional boyfriend and love interest, and spends a lot of time rescuing her from desperate situations. Ranger, an expert bounty hunter, is the third part of the triangle, and plays to the other side of the law than Morelli. Lula, who in the first novel is introduced as a prostitute, will become Plum’s useless off-sider who should be working at filing at the bond office. Plum’s family provide a range of secondary characters: the sleazy cousin for whom she works, the long-suffering stereotypical ethnic father who harumphs over the crazy situations, the worrying mother, and the kooky grandmother who has a fascination with Plum’s line of work, and in particular the weaponry. Character development doesn’t really occur after the first few books.
One for the Money sees Stephanie Plum broke and in employment troubles. She blackmails her cousin Vinnie to give her a job rounding up Failure To Appears for his bond agency. Joe Morelli has skipped bail on a charge of murder, and is hunted by Plum. Up-and-coming boxer Benito Ramirez is connected with the killing, and is a particularly nasty piece of work, having raped and mutilated women, only to have his fame save him. Unable to apprehend Morelli, Plum forms an uneasy alliance with him to take down Ramirez. The writing is fast-paced, the scenes are quite well-written, and the story is a bit darker and grimmer than later books, with far less slapstick.
It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s easily digested. But be careful–it’s a little addictive. An easy-to-read book from an easy-to-read series.
Oh, and it’s now a film.
One for the money doesn’t appear to be available on Kindle, but there are a variety of dead-tree editions, including an omnibus: Plum Boxed Set 1, Books 1-3 (One for the Money / Two for the Dough / Three to Get Deadly) (Stephanie Plum Novels)