Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review of Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

From The Reporter (California) --

Hamlin: 'Plum Spooky' packs plenty of paperback weirdness --

By Brian Hamlin --
03/07/2010 --

When it comes to finding the best and brightest supermarket paperbacks, it's usually a good idea to steer clear of established, best-selling authors.

Sure, they usually can write quite well, but most of them are caught in a kind of comfort zone created by years of success and fat wads of cash. Somehow they lack the off-the-wall spontaneity that unexpectedly launches a supermarket paperback to the top of the rack.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to this rule, and best-selling author Janet Evanovich has proved it with "Plum Spooky" (2010, St. Martin's Press, New York, N.Y., $7.99, 246 Pages).

In this fast-paced tale of murder, monkeys and missiles, Evanovich pulls out all the stops as her longtime heroine, bail enforcement agent Stephanie Plum, once again takes to the mean streets of Trenton, N.J., to round up a few forgetful clients who have somehow failed to show up in court after making bail.

In "Plum Spooky," however, events take a decidedly weird turn -- again and again and again.

Plum's problems begin when she's assigned to track down a young doctor of quantum physics named Martin Munch, who jumped bail after being arrested for smacking his boss in the nose with a Dunkin' Donuts coffee mug and then absconding with a one-of-a-kind cesium vapor magnetometer.

Under normal circumstances -- of which there are blissfully none in "Plum Spooky" -- Stephanie would be able to corral the boy genius without even working up a sweat, but he proves elusive and leads her and her cohorts on a merry chase through New Jersey.

Her cohorts?

Hey, everybody needs friends and Stephanie's got plenty of them backing her up. There's Lula, a plus-sized former prostitute who packs a nickel-plated Glock; Diesel, an international man of mystery who hunts down evildoers he refers to as "unmentionables"; Ranger, an armed and dangerous security consultant; and Carl, an itinerant monkey who was unceremoniously dumped on Stephanie's doorstep by a former bail jumper who wanted to have some quality, nonprimate time on her honeymoon.

With a team like that working around the clock, it's hard to believe Munch isn't back in custody within the hour, but he's teamed up with a sinister guy named Gerwulf Grimoire, a ne'er-do-well who drives a black Ferrari and looks like a stereotypical, albeit somewhat handsome, vampire. The pair have fled into the wilds of the Jersey Pine Barrens, where it appears they're working on a diabolical experiment involving rockets, barium and a half-dozen captive monkeys with helmets on their heads.

In pursuit of the pair, Stephanie soon finds herself confronted by everything from the legendary Jersey Devil -- a kind of flying, killer horse from hell -- to hordes of Jeep-eating, incontinent raccoons, a shotgun-wielding Sasquatch and a retiree who's been trapped in a threadbare pink bunny suit for years because the costume's zipper is stuck.

Weird? You betcha.

Janet Evanovich may be an established, best-selling author, but she certainly isn't in a rut and "Plum Spooky" proves it.

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