That title’s a bit clumsy, but given that I’ve just finished book nine, I thought I would do this as a general thing.
There are so far 18 books (and one movie), the next one due in November – and that’s not counting the between-the-numbers holiday books. They follow the cases of bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her colourful band of helpers and family in Trenton, New Jersey.
I hate to advocate watching the film instead of reading the book, but it is faithful enough to the first book that it’s a good introduction and should help you decide whether you want to commit to such a lengthy series.
I don’t know where I ever got the idea from, but let me tell you: these are not romance novels. Or at least, there is romance (and sex, but nothing 50 Shades), but the emphasis is more on the bounty hunting.
They are also not “serious” books. They do deal with serious themes – the baddie in the first book is quite violent – but these are not the chronicles of an excellent bounty hunter. They’re the funny books of a bounty hunter who doesn’t quite know what she’s doing and isn’t even sure why she’s still doing it.
Probably best read slowly, when you feel like a light read in the Plum world. While there is continuation with the recurring characters (especially those who are introduced and then have a bigger part in later books), each book is really its own story. If you like your books to make headway on the topics they cover, you might not like that there isn’t really any resolution to the romantic triangle by the end of book nine.
When we first meet our heroine Stephanie Plum, she’s just been fired from her job as a lingerie buyer and her car is about to be repossessed. She was briefly married, until she found her husband with her ex friend on the dining room table.
In desperation, she goes to her cousin Vinnie, ex bounty hunter turned bail bondsman who may or may not have once been intimate with a duck. Thus begins her new career as bounty hunter, along with her side interest in getting all her cars blown up. (not really. They blow up, but it’s not intentional.)
Her apartment, where she lives with hamster Rex and in which she keeps her (usually unloaded) gun in the cookie jar, is close enough to her parents to still constantly be enticed back for dinner, which starts promptly at 6pm.
Home comprises of resigned mother “Why me?”, father who prefers to keep out of the way, and Grandma Mazur, the only one not just happy but thrilled about her granddaughter’s new job and loves to try and get involved. She also approves of both of the men in Stephanie’s life, and isn’t afraid to let them know. Stephanie also has a sister, Valerie, but she isn’t properly introduced until a few books in.
This is only something to note if you really hate books that bring up even the smallest amount Christianity as there isn’t that much, but the mother is religious, goes to church – and wishes Stephanie would too – and frequently crosses herself.
Connie and Lula work in Vinnie’s office, or at least Lula does from book two; in book one she’s introduced as a streetwalker and later takes on a filing job – or at least a job pretending to file.
She’s the big woman to Stephanie’s petite woman, but that doesn’t stop her from wearing small clothes. Lula serves as comic relief, possibly the only other character as scared – or even worse – than Stephanie herself.
Bob the dog first appears in the sixth book. A huge, overly friendly and enthusiastic golden retriever who can and will eat everything in sight, he’s first given to Stephanie to “dog-sit”; when the owner refuses to take him back and Bob decides he’d prefer to live with Morelli, Stephanie and Morelli share ownership of him.
Joe Morelli, Trenton cop, infamous heartbreaker and taker of Stephanie’s virginity, is one of the two romantic interests and the more likely prospect, if they can ever make it work.
Ranger (also known as Batman) is Stephanie’s mysterious “mentor and tormentor” and other romantic interest. No one knows where he lives or where his endless supply of vehicles (or Merry Men) come from, and they don’t get anywhere if they ask. What no one argues is that he’s the better bounty hunter and a man of few words…. and a hot body.
While the violence is less than it might be given the topic, it may be unsuitable for younger readers.
Likewise with the intimate scenes. Not too many details, but not so few that you don’t know what they’re up to either, though it switches scenes before it goes too far. As someone who’s only just started branching into more adult fare, it’s got more than I’ve ever read before.
There is also language. Not too much of it – for the most part, it’s reserved for when it’s really needed – but it’s there.
I definitely recommend if you’re looking for a fun book, even if I have to admit that it feels a little like they’re being milked for a longer-than-necessary series.
Then again, that depends on how you look at “series.” If you like them with character development and forward moving chronology with a focused arc, this might not be for you. If, like those kids’ books you loved so much, you don’t mind each one just being a return to your favourite characters, you’ll be fine.
I’ll be getting the rest of the series and probably checking out Evanovich’s other work, how about you?