Sunday, July 18, 2004

BOOKS: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

Today, I am older than I was yesterday. A whole year older. Would be depressing if it wasn't for the folks trying to cheer me up by giving me gifts ... Books ... Books I want to read.

At least one book I have already read. That's cuz I got the number one book on my reading list, Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum novel, Ten Big Ones, LAST night when I was a whole year younger. The O'Neill clan treated me to supper and a book (plus a DVD set of Smallville Season One), and then had the courtesy to leave. Their excuse was that they had to get up early this morning to fly out to the West Coast for a two-week vacation. My excuse was that I wanted them to leave so I could hit the pages. By the time they arose this morning to drive to the airport, I'd finished the book and headed off to sleep.

Evanovich is the current dean of the misplaced lady sleuth niche of fiction. Nancy Bartholomew's Sierra Lavotini is an ecdysiast who finds trouble and ways out of it. Sarah Stroymeyer's Bubbles Yablonsky is a hair-dresser and journalist wannabe who is similiarly prone to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Call these women accidental Accident tourists.

Stephanie Plum, on the other hand, is a Bounty Enforement Agent, and she actively seeks out trouble. So much so, that when on/off beau Joe Morelli tells her to lay low when a contract is put out on her life, she does just the opposite. And that's KNOWING she's just being contrarian cuz she'd come up with just that idea, moments before Morelli got all uppity and cop-like. No accidental things happen to this girl. She courts trouble as avidly as she plays the romantic triangle game with Joe and the less-enigmatic than usual, but still very enigmatic Ranger.

Add in BEA-in-training/fileclerk/former streetwalker Lulu and Stephanie's Grandma Mazur (think of an old Ma Barker lacking most inhibitions), and you have a modern-day Three Stoogies looking for somewhere in Trenton, New Jersey to do something funny. It starts with Stephanie's first chapter habitual car destruction. It ends with an attempt on Stephanie's life that gets resolved too quickly by half. And then some.

In fact, the whole contract on her life takes 99 per cent of the book to set up, and then is over in two-three pages. A little abrupt.

Stephanie moves out of Joe's house even before the contract goes into effect. She's supposed to be lying low during the hunt for would-be killer. But, like so many kids who discover grounding isn't ALL that confining socially these days, Stephanie spends more time in plain sight than hiding outta sight. Her new car gone, Stephanie spends the rest of the novel tooling around in a big purple Lincoln Continental, a Ford Explorer, a Porsche Turbo, a Cayenne and Grandma's big blue boat of an automobile. Mostly, they all survive her driving them, except the Lincoln.

If you enjoy a smile while reading your mysteries, then this is a book to savour and grin at.

NOTE: is Janet Evanovich's web site. You can check out the fun section and the suggested movie actors for playing the various lead roles. For the record, I've voted for Lauren Grahan as Stephanie, Hugh Jackman as Joe and The Rock as Ranger. Loretta Devine as Lulu and Estelle Getty as Grandma Mazur are obvious choices. Stephanie's boss, cousin Vinnie, IS Steve Buscemi. I could live with Heather Paige Kent as Stephanie, Jimmy Smits as Ranger and even Jon Bon Jovi as Joe, but the three secondary roles are correct as I have voted for them.

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