“I attributed the incident to temporary insanity, and in my own defence, I’d like to say I haven’t run over anyone since.”
In this first of the Stephanie Plum series, now up to 17 instalments, Stephanie has lost her job as a discount lingerie saleswoman, her car has been repossessed, and her flat is running out of things to sell. She takes a job as a recovery agent for her cousin, who runs a bail-bond company, and her first assignment is to bring in “vice cop turned outlaw” Joe Morelli, whom she knows all too well from high school.
This series comes highly recommended by a wide variety of bloggers, and this feels like a very rocky but promising start to a series, much like Storm Front did a few days ago. Stephanie’s a pretty strong character, although I’m used to Kinsey Millhone and V.I. Warshawski from Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky’s books respectively, so compared to them she’s a bit of a wuss. It’s a very steep learning curve from underwear sales to bond recovery agent and it is pleasing to see Stephanie go through this, that she’s not magically catapulted into the hard-bitten criminal world knowing everything.That said, she is gifted with a bulls-eye shot and a certain amount of savvy which seem a little incongruous for a lingerie saleswoman who lost her job and couldn’t find a new one.
Evanovich has put together a cracking set of characters. Stephanie herself is going to take some work, but I loved her family – the difficult, match-making mother, the grandmother who wants Stephanie’s hot pants and gun and gets hold of both (much hilarity ensues), the grumpy father who doesn’t really do anything. The close-knit family-based community reminded me very strongly of the neighbourhoods in the V.I. Warshawski novels. Joe Morelli is quite a character too and I’m glad that he’s going to be coming back – he seems a pretty honourable gentleman with a solid combative streak that will see him tussling with Stephanie for a while to come.
Plot was a little thin on the ground, as there wasn’t much of a mystery to solve, but the writing is exciting if not high-falutin’ and there are some good sub-plots with potential to stretch over several books (particularly the Benito Ramirez strand). I was a bit surprised at the coarseness and brutality of some of the occurrences and descriptions (not sure why – Vic and Kinsey are just as bad).
All in all, not brilliant as a standalone, but I’ll be following up at least to number 2 in the series to see how Stephanie gets on.