Many mystery writers started their careers long ago as romance novelists, and Janet Evanovich is no exception. And I, for one, am glad she made the switch many long years ago! She created Stephanie Plum back in 1994, and the series continues today. This post will serve as an introduction and review of the first six novels in the series.
Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter who doesn’t know how to bounty hunt. She’s from an Italian neighborhood in Trenton, NJ. Now, if you’ve had a northeastern US upbringing as I have, “The Burg” as the neighborhood is called, requires no explanation. If you’re not from the northeast, think of the aging, blue-collar neighborhood in your closest big city, where everyone knows everyone’s business, the moms don’t work, the kids learned all about the birds and the bees from each other, and dinner was served promptly at 6:00 hungry or not. That’s “The Burg”.
The stories revolve around Stephanie’s bumbling attempts to apprehend unsavory characters who skip out on their court dates, causing her bail-bondsman cousin Vinnie to lose the money he paid to keep these folks out of prison. While the main characters in the series remain constant, new friends (and enemies) are introduced in each subsequent book, keeping them fresh and fun.
Because I was late to this party, I almost passed on this series. I thought I wouldn’t like reading books back from the 90s when cell phones weren’t the norm and no one had ever heard of Twitter. But don’t let that turn you off. It’s actually refreshing and fun to remember what it was like “back then.” The books are easy to read and full of humor, always with a whodunit to keep us wondering, and some sex for fun. The humor is what wins me over!
One for the Money (1994) – Stephanie Plum is introduced, and starts her job as a bounty hunter. Her first assignment is to capture undercover cop Joe Morelli, who has been accused of murder and is on the run. The chase turns dangerous when Stephanie crosses paths with Benito Ramirez, who likes to take his aggressions out on women. We’re also introduced to fellow bounty hunter Ranger, Stephanie’s Mom, Dad, and Grandma Mazur, all fixtures throughout the series.
Two for the Dough (1996) – Stephanie returns, this time hunting down Kenny Mancuso. Grandma Mazur gets in on the action, with Ranger and Joe Morelli always ready to lend a helping hand. Speaking of hands, though, Stephanie starts receiving embalmbed body parts as surprise packages on her doorstep, and things really heat up!
Three To Get Deadly (1997) – Stephanie wants a new job. But she’s stuck with the one she has, tracking down Mo Bedemier. Lula (the hooker originally introduced in book #1) wants to help! So does Joe Morelli, Ranger, and Grandma Mazur of course!
Four to Score (1998) – This time Stephanie is hot on the trail of Maxine Nowicki, wanted for theft, extortion, and of course missing her court dates! But, so is Joyce Barnhardt, Stephanie’s arch enemy from “back in the day.” Lula is helping, and transvestite Sally Sweet is introduced to also give a hand. All the usual characters are just as humorous as in previous books!
High Five (1999) – Stephanie’s own Uncle Fred is the missing party in this story, with a side struggle for Stephanie’s affections between Joe Morelli and Ranger! And watch out: Grandma Mazur has a stun gun!
Hot Six (2000) – Grandma Mazur is living in Stephanie’s apartment, she adopts a dog who loves to eat, and she’s put on a few pounds. But that’s nothing compared to the intrigue surrounding Ranger’s implication in the killing at the center of the story!
These are just tiny introductions to these books, all of which I highly recommend. If you’re a fan of Stephanie Plum, let us know why in the comments! (Or if you’re not, you can tell us why too!)
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