Book Review: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series ( Books 1-15)

Stephanie Plum is so smart, so honest, and so funny that her narrative charm could drive a documentary on termites. But this tough gal from New Jersey, an unemployed discount lingerie buyer, has a much more interesting story to tell: She has to say that her Miata has been repossessed and that she's so poor at the moment that she just drank her last bottle of beer for breakfast. She has to say that her only chance out of her present rut is her repugnant cousin Vinnie and his bail-bond business. She has to say that she blackmailed Vinnie into giving her a bail-bond recovery job worth $10,000 (for a murder suspect), even though she doesn't own a gun and has never apprehended a person in her life. And she has to say that the guy she has to get, Joe Morelli, is the same creep who charmed away her teenage virginity behind the pastry case in the Trenton bakery where she worked after school.

If that hard-luck story doesn't sound compelling enough, Stephanie's several unsuccessful attempts at pulling in Joe make a downright hilarious and suspenseful tale of murder and deceit. Along the way, several more outlandish (but unrelentingly real) characters join the story, including Benito Ramirez, a champion boxer who seems to be following Stephanie Plum wherever she goes.

I'm lumping all fiftenn Stephanie Plum novels together in one review because I haven't read them recently.  The series includes:  One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, Four to Score, High Five, Hot Six, Seven Up, Hard Eight, To the Nines, Ten Big Ones, Eleven on Top, Twelve Sharp, Lean Mean Thirteen, Fearless Fourteen, and Finger Lickin' Fifteen. 

These are very good books!  They are fast-paced, mostly realistic and funny.  I caught myself laughing out loud at least once per book.  There is an ensemble cast of characters that grows as the series progresses.  My favorite characters are Ranger, Lula, and Grandma Mazur. 

Stephanie is a bounty hunter.  She is untrained and you get the feeling that she's making things up as she goes.  She's a real "fly by the seat of her pants" kind of girl.  The books all feature Stephanie trying to apprehend someone who has skipped bail.  Most of the time she requires help from either Ranger or Joe Morelli to apprehend the criminal.  The books all give us some resolution as to the story, and there are no major cliffhangers between books. 

The only thing Evanovich really leaves you guessing about is Stephanie's love life.  Each book teases out the love triangle between Stephanie, Ranger, and Morelli.  I can't help but wonder if that is ever going to be resolved or if Evanovich is going to keep us guessing forever.  I'm anxiously awaiting book 16, which is due out in June 2010.  As long as Evanovich keeps writing this series, I'll keep reading it.

Just One Gripe:
Someone please transport me to the universe where a twenty-something woman can eat junk food all the time and hardly ever exercise and still be fit, trim and desirable.  I want to live there!

The Best Thing About This Series:
The humor---they really are funny!

Appropriate for a younger audience:
Probably not.  Parents, if your teen wants to read these, I would read them first and then make the call yourself.

Characters:  5/5
Plot:  4/5
Setting/Imagery:  4/5
Originality:  3/5
Ending:  5/5
Total Score:  21/25

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