Book #87

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

You've lost your job, your car's been repossessed, and most of your furniture and appliances have been sold off to pay the rent. Now the rent is due again. What do you do?

If you're Stephanie Plum, you become a bounty hunter. But not just a nickel-and-dime bounty hunter; you go after the big money. That means a cop gone bad. And not just any cop. She goes after Joe Morelli, a disgraced former vice cop who is also the man who took Stephanie's virginity at age 16 and then wrote details on a bathroom wall. With pride and rent money on the line, Plum plunges headlong into her first case, one that pits her against ruthless adversaries - people who'd rather kill than lose.

I often notice books on my shelf and have no idea where they’ve come from, and no memory of the purchase. One for the Money is one of these. I can only assume I picked it up during one of my many charity shop smash and grabs which I was so fond of in 2011-12. If so, I can see why this one was donated.

The blurb boasts of a woman falling into the role of bounty hunter, which implicitly suggests a strong female lead. We’re promised black humour, comedy, and a thrilling cat and mouse chase through New Jersey. Hmm.

Stephanie Plum is ridiculous. She’s not a strong female lead, and continuously gets herself into almost slapstick situations which all require a male to be called upon to help. In fact, there are no strong female characters anywhere in the novel, with the narrative focusing, with Stephanie as the exception, entirely on men. As a novel written by a woman, there are far too many sexist comments, and Evanovich’s depictions of sex workers also drew a frown from me.

There are some moments and dialogue here which can be interpreted as comedy, however they’re hardly monumental, and the plot seems to have been forsaken in an attempt to make us laugh. It all comes together in the end, but only through a connection of bad luck moments which contrive to give us a finale.

One great thing is that it’s so nineties. Running around chasing fugitives, but you can’t even phone the police when you see one so it’s pay phone or home. Answer machine messages, spandex shorts (every day), cheques, zero technology, it was all so hilarious to read for me. All Stephanie was missing was a few butterfly clips and a mood ring.

I doubt I’ll be continuing with this series, and I’ll have to make time to have a look at my other unread charity shop finds from years ago; quite possibly my taste was questionable at best in those days.