Being laid off in Trenton, NJ, means having to hock your stuff to pay the rent and buy gas, as well as endure family dinners (or starve) over at M&D's house. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so ex-discount lingerie buyer Stephanie Plum goes to work for cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, as a skip tracer, i.e. a bounty hunter who retrieves those who've skipped bail.
In ONE FOR THE MONEY, author Janet Evanovich kick starts Stephanie's new career. Plum immediately jumps into the proverbial deep end by convincing a skeptical Vinnie to give her a chance at finding Joe Morelli, a local cop accused of murder. The finder's fee is 10 grand, and that'll buy a lot of chow nuggets for Rex, Stephanie's pet hamster.
Plum's considerable appeal lies in her complete ineptitude for her new career. (It doesn't help that she and Morelli have a "past". At six, she'd allowed Joe to play train under her skirt in Old Man Morelli's garage. At sixteen, Stephanie was relieved by Joe of her virginity behind the pastry counter at the bakery where she worked. At nineteen, she intentionally clipped Morelli with the right front fender of her Dad's Buick.) Within the first few days on the job, Plum finds Joe four times, but fails to make the bust, a tough assignment if your quarry leaves you buck naked, dripping wet, and handcuffed to your own shower curtain rod. Or your car keys have been tossed into the putrid muck at the bottom of a dipsy-dumpster.
Another source of amusement for the reader is Stephanie's family: Mom, Dad, and Grandma Mazur. The inspiration for Grandma might well have been Dorothy's mother Sophia on the TV series GOLDEN GIRLS
I'm giving this first book in the series five stars because it's truly amusing and the Plum character is (for me, at this late date) fresh.