I have a huge back log of Kindle Deals of the Day on my Kindle, and I like to go back to Amazon to see where I was in my life when I decided I wanted to read something. I purchased Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money in June of 2016, right in the middle of maternity leave. I think I just assumed I would be getting a lot of reading done while I endured night feedings, day feedings, and got stuck under a finally-sleeping infant and couldn’t risk the TV. I was wrong – I had plenty of occasions to pick the Kindle up, but no mental capacity for even the lightest amateur sleuth slash romantic comedy novel. Now I am lucky enough to have a routine and most of my brains back, at least I hope, so here we go.
Stephanie Plum is in a bad place in her life. She recently divorced, was laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer, and has had to sell just about everything she owns just to make rent. So, when her car gets repossessed and the only food she can find is at her mother’s dining room table, she is forced to admit perhaps working with her cousin Vinnie the bail bondsman won’t be so bad after all. It’s just filing – she’s got this. When she arrives and the position has already been filled, Stephanie blackmails Vinnie into letting her try her hand at bounty hunting. There’s a guy who skipped out on his court date and the cut for Stephanie would be $10,000. Ten grand would go a long way to paying off debts so she jumps on it. The catch? The guy is Joseph Morelli, a cop wanted for murder who also happens to have a history with Stephanie. He seduced her over some cannoli in high school and never called, she hit him with her car in anger later. She knows Joe won’t be easy to catch but she is determined to find him, even if it kills her. Which becomes increasingly likely the more she investigates the case.
I enjoyed this book, but I went in with extremely low expectations. I’d also seen the movie version first, starring Katherine Heigl and Jason Mara; I am not a huge fan of Heigl’s movies but this wasn’t her worst and Mara is pretty hot. It was more fun than i expected at the time and I’ve since forgotten the movie entirely, so it’s not really like I was spoiled by doing things out of order. The writing can be a little weirdly detailed about mundane things. I don’t know how much writing Evanovich did prior to starting the Plum series, so maybe it was beginner stuff and she outgrows it later. But what kept bothering me was how much attention was paid to getting around Trenton and the general locations of things. Just about every time Stephanie goes out hunting for clues, she describes the routes she takes to get there; it’s like Evanovich wanted the readers to know she did research. Stuff like that I glaze over. Maybe if I grew up in Trenton and knew the area she was talking about I’d be more interested, but I don’t know if I would. Who cares what streets you’re on? Just tell me about the juicy info you are getting from the sassy hookers. She also reviews Stephanie’s outfits and daily routine in a lot of detail. Each time she goes home we get a “i showered, dressed in this or that outfit, ate a muffin,” etc. It reminds me of the Sookie Stackhouse novels – I remember quickly skimming through daily activities like that a lot in that series as well. Maybe it’s a thing in this genre of fiction? I’ve read plenty of these ‘grocery store’ books as I like to call them, and I can’t remember enough plots to know for sure.
The mystery isn’t really the draw for this book, so it’s ok that you basically know from the beginning that Joe is innocent. I would say “spoiler,” but this book came out in 1995, the rules don’t apply. The interesting part of the story is how Stephanie figures this out at the same time realizing she may have found her calling. Sure, she is naive and totally terrible at the job at first, but she picks things up and is naturally nosy enough that hunting people down comes more easily than it should. I’m not sure how likeable the characters are. Joe is charming and I’d like to read more of him. It could be that I just enjoy picturing the movie version though. The novel is pretty dated in stereotypes and sexist expectations (both sides), but it’s fun and light and I read it in two days. I will pick up the others when I need a quick fix of beach reading in the future.