One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich

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“And it was all going so well, too…”

Former romance writer Evanovich switched genres and hit paydirt immediately with the first in the series, describing the adventures of former Newark lingerie buyer Stephanie Plum. She’s forced, through financial misadventure, to find a new job, and goes for a job filing paperwork for her bail bondsman cousin, but ends up hunting FTA’s (those who Failed To Appear for their court date) instead. She starts at the top, with suspended cop Joe Morelli, who has vanished after being accused of shooting an unarmed man. But as the witnesses to the incident start to die, Plum realises things may not be what they seem. The novice bounty huntress is well out of her depth, not least when she crosses psycho boxer Ramirez – until help comes from an unexpected source…

It’s an immensely readable book, with Plum an engagingly inept heroine. Initially, she truly is a bit crap at bringing in bail-jumpers, and it’s all a lot more plausible than, say, Domino. The subsidiary characters are nicely drawn, and though there is the inevitable unresolved sexual tension, it doesn’t get in the way of the thoroughly entertaining story. Unfortunately, just when it was cruising towards a seal of approval, we get the most embarrassing case of Bond villain-itis I’ve ever read. By that, I mean “Now I have you in my absolute power, 007, let me describe to you every detail of my plan for world domination.” That’s exactly what happens to Plum: the bad guy is pointing a gun at her, and suddenly feels the need to explain the entire plot. It’s eighth-grade writing, and is in staggering contrast to the assured prose which came before.

The series is, at time of writing, up to twelve novels, with a thirteenth due in June. I’ve read reports that later entries lose the plot badly, with silly characters and a slide back towards the pulp romance from which the author original came. I can’t say I’m surprised, having seem a similar decline in the Anita Blake series after the first few volumes. But, on its own, this is a fine piece of entertainment, that really had me turning the pages enthusiastically, and despite the mis-step at the end, I’ll certainly be looking out for the next in the series, Two for the Dough.

By: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Harper Torch, 1994

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