A review of Notorious Nineteen, by Janet Evanovich
@@@ (3 out of 5)
Dear Janet (if I may be so bold),
Maybe it’s me, but I doubt that. After you’ve written — what is it? 50? 51? — novels all told, I think you’re losing steam. Notorious Nineteen is, of course, the 19th in your Stephanie Plum series, and it shows. Here are a few of the most prominent signs:
- Not one but two cars Stephanie is driving are blown up;
- Lula consumes at least 8,000 calories of junk food in a single day;
- Ranger rescues Stephanie from imminent death not once but twice;
- A really bad guy gets blown up trying to kill Stephanie; and
- Morelli and Stephanie still aren’t ready to get married after talking about it for 10 years.
Truth to tell, some of this is funny as it happens, which is why I kept reading this series of comic novels so long. But the humor is fast fading, and so is the guilty pleasure I’ve taken so long in this series.
I don’t know about you, Janet, but I’m ready to put Stephanie out to pasture at last. Appearances notwithstanding, she’s really pushing 60 now, right? Isn’t it time to lay off the staff on that assembly-line writing factory of yours and see what you can do on your own again?
Think about it. You may not be able to write anything original, but you won’t know unless you try, no?
Your erstwhile fan,
@@@ (3 out of 5)
You find yourself in Trenton, New Jersey. (Don’t ask why.)
Your cast of characters includes the following:
- Stephanie Plum, an incompetent, thirty-something bounty hunter (“bond enforcement agent”) of mixed Hungarian and Italian ancestry;
- Morelli, a handsome homicide detective whose long-standing lust for Stephanie has yielded an on-again, off-again relationship that has never progressed to marriage and doubtless never will;
- Ranger, an equally handsome, Hispanic former Army Ranger who owns a corporate security company and lusts after Stephanie with equal fervor; Ranger repeatedly loans Stephanie expensive vehicles, which she invariably destroys, only to be saved by him from death and disaster;
- Lula (not the Brazilian president), a pistol-packing former ‘ho with a taste for doughnuts, fried chicken, and lurid clothing, who now works as a “file clerk” in the bail bond office where Stephanie receives her assignments;
- Cousin Vinnie, a sex pervert with a truly catholic range of tastes for animals, women’s underwear, and almost anything else of or pertaining to the female gender;
- Connie, the gutsy bail bond office manager whose family is part of a larger Family;
- Grandma Mazur, Stephanie’s constantly randy grandmother whose avocation is attending funeral home “showings;”
- Mooner, a high school classmate of Stephanie’s who is, of course, continuously stoned and thus appears to live on another planet;
- Joyce Barnhardt, Stephanie’s nemesis since high school, whose exaggerated surgical makeover has captivated not only Stephanie’s then-husband but Morelli as well; and
- several more or less normal-seeming people to round out the cast.
Got it? OK. Now, as the playwright of this farce, it’s your job to mix and match these characters, swirl them around a main plot (of sorts) with a couple of cute sub-plots thrown in. But let’s assume you’ve already done all this. What do you get?
You get Sizzling Sixteen — the (count ’em) sixteenth Stephanie Plum novel. Now, if you prefer to read rather than write this sort of thing, you might want to pick it up. Janet Evanovich’s writing is often hilarious, assuming you go in for broad humor (as I do). Just don’t expect to (a) learn anything new, (b) be uplifted or enlightened; or (c) feel good about why you keep reading this stuff!