Friday, March 6, 2009

Bounty hunter’s adventures continue in new Evanovich volume

From Nashville City Paper --

Bounty hunter’s adventures continue in new Evanovich volume --

By: Ron Wynn, --
Posted: Friday, March 6, 2009 --

Even in the crowded universe of mystery and crime fiction, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum stands out as a distinctive and enticing figure.

Instead of being a cop or private detective, Plum’s trade is bounty hunting, which often puts her as much in conflict with the police as the subjects she’s tracking.

She has a family that can’t understand why their daughter hasn’t already settled down and had children, and wonder about the hours she works and the company she keeps. Add Plum’s romantic misadventures, which include one on-again, off-again boyfriend and another male comrade far more interested in her than vice versa, and it’s all fodder that’s helped Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series frequently top The New York Times’ best-seller lists.

Her newest entry Plum Spooky adds an extra ingredient, with the return of the enigmatic Diesel. Plum never knows when or where he will surface, and though he adores her, she doesn’t completely trust him. But now Diesel becomes her ally when Plum walks into what she thought was a simple bail jumping case, but instead evolves into a murky and dangerous investigation.

Martin Munch is a 24-year-old genius with a doctorate in quantum physics as well as some severe anger management problems. His continual battles with his lab project manager escalated into physical altercations, and Munch not only knocked the guy out, he broke his nose.

Since this looked like a rather simple assault situation with a probable fine and/or even possible probation or suspended sentence, no one anticipated that Munch wouldn’t show up for court. Instead, he’s chosen to flee, leaving Plum’s employer holding the tab for the bond.

Plum thinks this will be an easy case, because how tough can it be to run down a 24-year-old who’s never been in trouble before and probably doesn’t know anyone except other scientists?

But that assumption proves a bad one.

It turns out Munch had discovered something in the lab, and couldn’t get anyone to pay attention to him. So he’s taken his findings elsewhere, and is now squarely in the middle of something big and potentially life-changing. Plum soon finds herself battling a contract killer, camping out in a deserted New Jersey area, and frequently encountering Munch and his newly found friends in less than desirable circumstances.

As the story progresses, Plum draws closer in an odd way to Diesel, while also enlisting the help of some other favorite characters from past Evanovich novels like Lula, the tough-talking but resourceful part-time assistant and even her grandmother Mazur, the only family member who seems to get a kick out of Plum’s livelihood.

There’s a clever blend of action, humor, philosophy and pathos in Evanovich’s crime novels. Stephanie Plum doesn’t hesitate to use a gun or her fists when necessary, but can be sentimental or alluring when the occasion calls for that type of behavior.

She neither wants nor needs to be married, but enjoys companionship with males who see her as an equal rather than a competitor or a threat. Plum Spooky continues the adventures of a great character, though she sometimes will irritate or surprise as much as delight and enlighten.

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