Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Humor, fast pace, fun
Cons: The raunchiness could turn off readers
The Bottom Line:
Fast paced and funny
Hard time putting the book down
Popular series

Captivating Debut

I have always enjoyed the lighter side of life. Even thought mysteries are by nature dark (we are talking about crime and murder after all), there are still authors who are able to balance the humorous with suspense.

Any discussion of comic mysteries almost immediately brings up this series. Novice bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has many fans the world over. Finally, I decided to pick up the first book, One for the Money, and see just what all the fuss is about.

Stephanie Plum has been out of work for months. With her savings gone and her car repossessed, she's desperate enough to ask her cousin Vinnie for a job. But the filing job she went in for has been filled, so she decides to try her hand at bounty hunting. After all, how hard can it be?

Turns out to be plenty hard. After all, most of the criminals won't come when asked politely. And for someone who has never handled a gun before in her life, that means she's in over her head. Plus, she targeted Joe Morelli, a cop on the run trying to prove he was framed. She desperately needs the $10K she would get for successfully bring him in. Beside, they share a not so pleasant past that makes this a case of revenge as well as money. But when boxer Benito Ramirez starts dogging her trail, Stephanie begins to suspect she's in over her head. Can she survive long enough to bring Morelli in?

From the very first page, it's easy to see why these books are popular. The writing style is engaging. Stephanie's first person narration reads like a friend telling a story over a cup of coffee. The writing is so smooth the pages just fly by.

Additionally, the pace is lightening quick. I had a hard time putting the book down and couldn't stop thinking about it when I did. Stephanie moves from one funny scene to the next when she's not in grave danger. The mystery is a little light and takes a back seat to the antics and action, but it does include a few surprises before it ends.

And there are plenty of crazy antics. Stephanie is in over her head, but she doesn't let that stop her one bit. She takes what is thrown her way, then does the craziest thing she can in retaliation. I was laughing at the over the top bits the entire way through.

The characters leap off the page. Granted, they are a bit cliched. Okay, they're a lot cliched. But they come across as real people, and it's easy to care for them from the very beginning.

There is one potential flaw, however. The book is rather raunchy at times. I was having too much fun to care with this book, but anyone who prefers to stay on the cleaner side of things won't enjoy it.

This is a strong first novel in what has become a best selling series. If you enjoy a dose of the absurd side of life with your mystery, One for the Money will be right up your alley.

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