Sunday, November 29, 2009

‘Fifteen’ is Evanovich at her (almost) best

From Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier --

‘Fifteen’ is Evanovich at her (almost) best --

By Amie Steffen --
August 20, 2009 --

“Sometimes it was good not to have a lot of expensive stuff,” muses narrator and main character Stephanie Plum nearly two-thirds of the way through “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen.” “Less to feel bad about when it got firebombed.”

For those who know the antics of Plum from Janet Evanovich’s previous 14 novels on the New Jersey bounty hunter (no, I do not count the between-the-numbers books), this quote is not so much telling, but reassuring. Plum is back — and so is the hilarious trouble that befalls her.

It’s difficult to sustain a series for at least 15 books, and some fans I’ve talked to were disillusioned by a few of Evanovich’s latest books. But those people also told me that the author was back on her game for “Fifteen,” and I’m inclined to agree.

The story starts out when Lula, former streetwalker and wannabe bounty hunter, barges into the office to report she saw a guy get his head chopped off while she was sitting in her car. It turns out that guy was a celebrity chef, in town for a barbeque cook-off.

When someone puts out a million-dollar reward for the capture of his killers, Lula thinks they’ll be at the cook-off and decides to enter the barbeque contest, even though she doesn’t cook. (Picture scenes with Lula exploding pressure cookers and setting her hat — and everything else — on fire.)

Meanwhile, Stephanie’s love life is, unfortunately for readers, pretty nonexistent. She and Trenton cop Joe Morelli are off-again because of an argument about peanut butter. But because of several factors, including working a gig at Rangeman, Stephanie does end up spending several nights in the luxurious apartment — and bed — of her other love interest, Ranger. Sadly, however, most of those nights she spends only sleeping.

That’s a downer for me, because the last time I remember Stephanie hanging out in Ranger’s bed it was a lot steamier. Though she usually tones down the descriptions, Evanovich inserts plenty of playfulness, touching and dirty talk in most of the books, usually involving Stephanie and Morelli or Ranger. There’s a few kisses from Ranger, but in “Fifteen,” they feel platonic, like they’re obviously not leading anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong — Evanovich still weaves a clever story, filled with the hilarity we’re accustomed to reading from her. But with Stephanie on the unnaturally chaste side, “Fifteen” seems one ingredient short of finger-lickin’ good.

No comments:

Post a Comment