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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not So Hot Sixteenth

Sizzling Sixteen
Stephanie Plum Mystery Series, #16
Janet Evanovich

St. Martin’s Press, 2010

What can I say about the sixteenth episode in the life of Stephanie Plum? Once again she is in a pickle, only this time she is attempting to save her cousin Vinnie’s life so that she can continue to have a job. I’m not sure why she wants to keep her crappy job; it would seem to me a good time to switch careers (if not companies) when the boss is kidnapped and her car is once again blown up, or crunched, or stolen, or whatever happens to it this time.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Stephanie Plum mystery series. I’ve been reading them since the beginning and I quite understand that some are better than others. I enjoyed reading this one, but it did not make me laugh out loud, nor did it forge any new ground in the “who-will-she-pick” saga. In fact, this one seemed to be just run of the mill Evanovich, but it’s still better summer reading than a lot of other choices. Number 16 is a little boring and predictable and lazy, so I’ve come up with the plot outline for No. 17, just in case Janet needs some ideas

Ceremonial Seventeen:

1. Stephanie and Joe get engaged. This leads to lots of funny side plots that revolve around planning a wedding. For instance, Lulu assumes she will be the maid of honor and plans a very interesting maid of honor ensemble. Maybe Grandma also assumes she will be the maid of honor. Hilarity ensues. Stephanie doesn’t know how to tell Ranger she is engaged to Joe, so she avoids the issue and then gets herself in hot water with Joe. Stephanie’s mother and sister start planning an elaborate wedding that Stephanie doesn’t really want, complete with garish flowers, elaborate ice sculptures, etc. Stephanie and Joe have to go to premarital counseling, which could be very entertaining all by itself.

2. Stephanie, Connie and Lulu start their own private investigation company. They have to find investors and, being naïve, they look in all the wrong places. Ranger bails them out, of course (pun intended). The private investigation firm can also get a lot of amusing detective cases, like suspicious wives hiring them to follow husbands, which can add to the fun.

3. The mystery plot, always the least important aspect of a Stephanie Plum novel, should focus on Joe this time. Maybe he’s accused of receiving kickbacks for protection. Maybe he’s accused of associating with the mob – they are in New Jersey, after all. So he hires Stephanie and associates to investigate the situation and find out who is setting him up.

Ideas for #18, #19 and #20:
1. Joe and Stephanie get married and have a kid. Lulu assumes she will be godmother.
2. Stephanie hires additional people to work in the detective agency, which may or may not prove to be a good idea. How about hiring Mooner? Or some of the past characters that she had to track down when they skipped bail (only the nonviolent ones, of course).
3. Stephanie’s mom (does she have a name?) goes through a mid-life crisis, in which she goes a little nuts. Maybe she has an affair, or starts shoplifting, or just gets a job outside the home. Ha.
4. Ranger is so sad that Stephanie picked Joe he starts dating Joyce, Stephanie’s arch nemesis. Stephanie decides to investigate Joyce and discovers she’s involved in some illegal activities. Or maybe Ranger loses control of himself and goes to Vegas to get married. It’s time for Ranger to discover his inner child and become vulnerable.

If you haven’t started the series, now is a good time to start. If you sped read through the latest installment, maybe you are in the mood for some other series:

Sierra Lavotini mystery series by Nancy Bartholomew
Bubbles Yablonsky mystery series by Sarah Strohmeyer
Loretta Kovacs and Frank Marvelli mystery series by Anthony Bruno
Lilly Bennett mystery series by Marne Davis Kellogg
Izzy Spellman mystery series by Lisa Lutz (my personal favorite!)

Rating (see key below):

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie and Morelli married? No way! I say... they break up for good, he marries a pastry chef, Stephanie takes control of her life, paints her apartment (or maybe gets a new one), and tells her mother where she can shove the burnt pot roast. Maybe she ends up with Ranger, maybe she doesn't, but anything is better than being Morelli's typical burg wife. That's not who she is.