on 5 July 2007
Stephanie Plum's obnoxious ex-husband Dickie Orr goes missing the day after Stephanie tries to strangle him, and she finds has to go searching for him, while being tailed by the equally obnoxious Joyce Barnhardt, who is Dickie's current girlfriend, and who is anxious to find Dickie, or at any rate his money, of which he has a lot. Naturally, this leads Stephanie into all kinds of trouble, and as always, someone is out to kill her.
I thought this book, although not as funny as the early Plums, was an improvement on the last two, it has a better plot and more humour. As always, the supporting players, especially Grandma Mazur and Lula, are fun to meet. There are some funny guest characters, especially the crazy taxidermist who specialises in exploding animals. You may wonder how anyone as incompetent as Stephanie manages to make a living as a bounty hunter (she still can't bring herself to carry her gun, and she still lets people sneak out the back way while she waits for them out the front). And you may wonder how much longer Joe Morelli and Ranger are going to wait for her to make up her mind which one of them she prefers. But never mind, suspend disbelief and just enjoy another helping of Plum.
Every year I look forward less and less to a new Evanovich novel, and I used to anticipate them with more glee than Christmas. The problem is that they are now so very formulaic you can predict almost to the paragraph what will happen next. Don't get me wrong, the characters are wonderful, the wit and humour still spot on (and it is very hard to write funny things) and the pace is still keeping those pages turning, but nevertheless, this story is the same as the one before and the one before that. I keep reading them for the occasional belly laughs and because I want to know what happens next in Stephanie's tangled life, but they are no longer the breath of fresh air they used to be. In this one Stephanie's ex-husband goes missing after she has had a particularly full and frank discussion with him, making her number one suspect. The friction between Stephanie and Joyce Barnhardt is delightful and as ever Grandma Mazur is a superstar, but Rex must be the oldest hamster in the world now and it's time Stephanie moved on a little.
on 7 July 2008
I adored the earlier books in this series, but found I wasn't as gripped by the last couple, so I delayed buying this one. On balance I'm glad I got round to it eventually - I still don't think it's up to the earlier standard, but there were things I liked about it and overall I enjoyed reading it.
My main concern about the later books is sometimes the characters seem to be simply going through the motions, and this is no good thing when it's Stephanie and Joe - we're used to the lights being on and someone definitely at home and it wasn't quite there for me here - add that to an unconvincing villain and we're never really worried about Stephanie's safety. Just making the villain insane does not make him 3-dimensional or frightening - and Evanovich can do insane AND 3-dimensional AND frightening brilliantly (remember Benito Ramirez?)- in spite of some fairly gruesome executions there's no sense of menace here and that's something that has definitely been present in many of the other books and is the vital counterbalance to the humour.
What I did like was that Grandma (much as I enjoy her company) stayed at home more and that in general there were fewer people jumping in the car with Stephanie every time she went to investigate - it was definitely getting a bit overcrowded and a bit too Keystone Cops. In fact a number of the regular minor characters have taken a break from this book and I think it worked. The plot was fine, there were some entertaining one-liners and, unless I missed it, Bob didn't throw up once.
On the whole, it was a good way to spend a few hours, especially as the weather was foul at the time, but I definitely had the feeling that this was either written in a rush, or without the author's full attention. I know that these aren't heavyweight books - that's why I enjoy them so much - and I know that the characters are going to follow a particular path and that certain things are going to happen, but I don't want to recognise the formula while I'm reading it - even though I know Stephanie's going to be OK in the end, I want to be able to worry that it might not happen. Having said that, who could've predicted exploding beaver!? Will I read no. 14? I expect so, when it's out in paperback.
on 18 October 2007
Stephanie Plum novels are always fun. They are not great literature, introspective or soul searching; nor are they Pulitzer Prize material; but on the other hand they are well written, great fun and a good mindless relaxing read.
Janet Evanovich has completed yet another successful novel with "Lean Mean Thirteen". As with all Stephanie Plum novels, our fearless protagonist is about ready to do once again what she knows she shouldn't do.
Stephanie muses, "I was about to do something I knew I shouldn't do. The signs were all there in front of me. Sick stomach. Feeling of impending disaster. Knowledge that it was illegal. And yet I was going to forge ahead with the plan. Not that this was especially unusual. Truth is, I've been dealing with impending doom for as long as I can remember."...and so begins another adventure with our girl.
What was a little bewildering about this novel is that our protagonist is surrounded by all of her former and current love interests. The first being Dickie Orr, her first mistake, who she was married to for 15 minutes when she found him cheating on her with her arch enemy Joyce Barnhardt who in this novel Dickie has reconnected with. Her next error in judgement involves a second love interest: Ranger..who she decides to do a favor for and winds up knee deep in dangerous territory. Doing favors for Ranger always has strings attached or unusual circumstances. Ranger has asked Stephanie to plant a bug on Dickie. In doing so, she loses her temper and becomes a prime suspect when Dickie goes missing especially as he forgot to change his will and she might come to inherit a cool 40 million!
Joe Morelli has his own secrets and he and Ranger try to keep Stephanie out of trouble which we all know is virtually impossible. The same old gang is around for this adventure including Lulu, Connie, Tank, Bob the wonderful canine, Rex and my favorite character Grandma Mazur. Even a new taxidermist boyfriend for Grandma turns up.
Some of the reviewers were disappointed with the plot and even with Stephanie's indecisiveness. There is little change in direction or life's purpose for our heroine and the time has come for some decisions to be made and some newness to be injected into the predictability of the characters and plot development. Stephanie seems to be in a no commitment of any type zone and seems to be wandering aimlessly drifting further from a decent job, committed relationship or marriage. Having a heroine live from pay check to pay check without any plans for her future after thirteen novels is leaving a few faithful readers cold. If this were real life, one would have to wonder how much longer would a Morelli wait in the wings and/or be patient or understanding with the attraction that his love interest seems to have for another man.
Though I am still a fan of cupcake and enjoyed the novel immensely, I like many others believe that the next novel should summon in some changes for Stephanie and some new directions for her life. The heroine needs to maintain the respect and admiration of her loyal followers and this can only be done if she makes some decisions regarding her relationships and her commitments or lack of commitment to them. If she strikes out on her own looking for a new Mr. Right and stops dangling Morelli and Ranger..even that would be enough to regain the respect of her followers. It doesn't seem to fit our character's personality or sense of fair play that she would be comfortable in leading on both men and have conflicting feelings for both of them indefinately.
However, despite my personal misgivings that more unpredictable events should have been part of "Lean Mean Thirteen" and were not and that it seems to be time for our girl to grow up and make some choices for her future, I still have to say that I find Stephanie Plum to still be a compelling and zany bounty hunter whose antics always aim to please.
Let us hope that #14 steers Stephanie on a new path or I like many others may have reached the end of the line.
3.5 stars (B-) "Recommend as a fun and worthwhile read"
I can't for a minute understand why so many reviewers were disappointed by this 13th Stephanie Plum novel - my husband and I wait eagerly for each new book in the series to be available, and we both found this one of the funniest ever .. the taxidermist exploits were fabulous, the dialogue as great as ever, the characters like very precious old friends ... each of us laughed throughout the book and agreed that we can't wait for the next one.
I disagree that the plot was tired ... Stephanie's exploits aren't meant to morph into V.I. Warshawski's or Kinsey Millhone's! And why on earth should she choose between Joe or Ranger? Then she wouldn't have all the pleasure of their company and nor would we ;-) Maybe by book number 20 she'll make a decision, but what's the hurry?
I very much enjoy the dynamics between Morelli and Ranger and Steph, and I'd hate to see that go. Also, I enjoy living on the edge of "will she, won't she?" go there again with Ranger ... she isn't even living with Morelli, so I don't have a "Stephanie's a slut" problem should she decide to do so .. and ooh, both these guys are soooooo hot! LOL
I enjoy the Plum family; love to hate Joyce when she makes another appearance in a book, adore Rex - for all he spends so much time in his soup can - and would have Bob join my own dogs in a heartbeat ...
This is a fabulous book and has not only served to make me eager for the next, but given me hours of enjoyment in the meantime.
on 26 August 2007
I bought this book before any of the reviews have been posted and if I had seen what had been written I would have been fuming, but now I've read (most of) the book I totally agree with the majority of the reviews. I have, like others read the other 12 in this series, but I haven't even finished this one. Its hard to understand what I dislike about the book, and as I love all the characters I've decided it must be the plot. Every book has had the Morelli, Ranger, Stephanie love triangle but now it's just getting irritating and boring. Readers won't put up with recycled plots and lame directionless sub plots. I'm not bothered if the plots are believable or not as long as they don't feel tiresome. I used to eagerly anticipate the release of these books, but sadly now, I think those days have gone. I'm now reading Marcia Muller's latest, she really has stood the test of time.
Let me say right up front that I've read, and been entertained by, all of the Stephanie Plum novels. Including this one, LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN. But, let's be honest, author Janet Evanovich, isn't taking her klutzy bounty hunter heroine anywhere she hasn't been already in twelve previous outings, and the plot concept is getting a little thin around the edges.
Here, as usual, Stephanie tries mightily and with mixed success to capture relatively harmless bail skips, including a taxidermist who booby traps his stuffed animals, while also endeavoring to discover the whereabouts of her ex-husband Dickie, who's disappeared and is possibly the victim of foul play. Indeed, the word around Trenton is that Stephanie is, or may become, the primary suspect.
The storyline is otherwise predictable. Plum's sidekick Lula, the ex-ho, continues to get herself and/or Stephanie in the occasional fine mess. Plum continues to wreak destruction on her wheels of the moment. Plum's Grandma Mazur continues to carry a .45 and live for mortuary viewings. Plum's Mom continues to cook and iron and be aghast at her own mother's antics. Plum's Dad continues to do very little but sit in front of the TV or at the dinner table. Plum's pet hamster Rex continues to live in his soup can. Plum continues to ricochet back and forth between the attentions of Detective Joe Morelli and bad boy bounty hunter and security consultant, Ranger. Those of you who've followed Stephanie's checkered career know the drill.
About the only things that change from one Plum novel to the other are the eccentricities of the skips and the dastardliness of the chief Bad Guy. Here, Plum is ultimately menaced by a killer who offs his victims with a flamethrower. OK, whatever.
The thing is, you see, Stephanie's character isn't evolving and plot after plot after plot holds no surprises for the dedicated fan. The sameness of all in the aggregate has reduced the subsequent value of each new release to the point of being only average, which, by my rating system, is three stars no matter what chuckles it stimulates. After another thirteen episodes of the same old, same old, one star may be the best I can manage.
on 16 July 2007
I love these books but I consider that Stephanie Plum has come to a stand still in her life. Its time to put up or shut up I think, she either marries Morelli or ditches him and goes off with Ranger, or even kill off Morelli, something new needs to happen! (or stop writing them altogether)! There is no change in the characters they just seem stuck in a rut.
Grandma Mazur is her usual comic self and provides somewhat light relief from a story that keeps a similar pace the whole way through. You feel like you are continually waiting for something to happen.. and it never does. And one more point... how is (what we presume to be the original)Rex still alive and kicking? Must be a super hamster!!
For my money, Lean Mean Thirteen is by far the best beach read of this summer. Although you could race through the book at high speed in a few hours, there is enough humor in here to keep you chuckling, guffawing, and rolling on the floor in tears from now until long past Labor Day. So another way to read this book is to stop every time you laugh out loud . . . and pick it up again the next day. I suspect that would be the best way to enjoy the book . . . but naturally, I didn't have that much self control. I did, however, keep track of where I laughed aloud when I read the book and the total exceeded 160 times!
To me, Stephanie Plum has emerged as one of the great comic heroines of crime literature. Could you love her any more? I doubt it.
Unlike some other books in the series, you'll probably enjoy Lean Mean Thirteen more if you've read at least One for the Money of the earlier books so you know the story of her former marriage to Dickie Orr before beginning this book.
Who will love this book? Anyone who cannot get enough of Stephanie Plum as bounty hunter, beloved of two sexy men, and granddaughter of Grandma Mazur.
Who will be disappointed in this book? Those who are looking for Stephanie to choose between Morelli and Ranger.
So what happens? A lot.
Let me tell you a tiny bit about how the book starts to get you in the mood. I'm reluctant to say very much because so much of the humor relies on surprises.
Ranger asks Stephanie to plant a bug on Dickie Orr, her ex-husband. In the process, Stephanie finds lots of reasons to be enraged at Dickie and the lawyer finds himself at risk of becoming a homicide victim at Stephanie's hands. Soon, Dickie has vanished and his girlfriend, the abominable Joyce Barnhardt, is out to punish Stephanie.
Nearly destitute, Stephanie is out trying to bring in bail jumpers . . . but without much success. Can she stave off starvation?
The bail jumpers are quite an unusual lot: One is a mild threat unless you light a fire around his house; another is most likely to be found robbing graves of those who are buried with jewels and clothes he can wear . . . when he's not playing with his 20 foot-long snake; and a third is a mild taxidermist with an unusual hobby who doesn't want to leave home because he's waiting for someone.
One of the delights of this book is that Janet Evanovich has taken off the handcuffs in bringing new weapons to the party that Stephanie can use to defend herself . . . and to threaten Stephanie's life.
Like all of the best Plum books, Lean Mean Thirteen is corpse-deep in ironies, unexpected turnabouts, and surprises. Don't miss it.
I must admit that I wanted to add another irony to the pile by reading the book on Friday the thirteenth. That added a final laugh for me. But don't wait until the next Friday the thirteenth.
Get your next laugh from this book today!
In some ways I agree with the others that this book is somewhat predictable, however, I think this adds to its charm. Stephanie continues to get up to as much mayhem as usual, and Morelli and Ranger continue to get her out of a lot of scrapes. I certainly didn't expect most of it and I thought it was well written and funny. I wouldn't like Stephanie or any of the others to be too different as the reason I read the books is because I like every last one of them just the way they are. In to the mix you add one ex husband, half the world trailing Stephanie and the taxidermist from hell and this adds up to one funny novel. I read it in one sitting and I am already looking forward to the next one.