Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephanie wants a baby, 18 Jan. 2005
This review is from: To The Nines (Paperback)
As one of the sweaty masses in constant need of "bread and circuses" to forestall social discontent, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich has been a mainstay of cheap entertainment. However, by the end of book eight (HARD EIGHT), even that was beginning stale around the edges. But elements of TO THE NINES have reinvigorated my interest.
If you don't know from your assigned reading by now, Stephanie is a bond enforcement agent - a bounty hunter - employed by her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, in Trenton, NJ. While Plum eventually manages to catch her man (or woman), she invariably leaves a trail of chaos in her wake, and her modus operandi is endearingly klutzy. Plus, all the characters in her personal and professional life lie on a continuum from being mildly eccentric to outright wack jobs. Only her pet hamster, Rex, is normal.
In TO THE NINES, Stephanie's quarry is Samuel Singh, an Indian in the States on a temporary work visa on which Vinnie has underwritten a new type of bond - a "visa bond". But Singh has disappeared, and the resulting bad publicity will destroy Vinnie's business unless his disaster-prone cousin can find him. Assigned to help in the search is Vinnie's premier contract agent, Ranger, a mysterious ex-Special Forces type that operates just outside the law and who, since book one (ONE FOR THE MONEY), has inpired a warm feeling in our heroine's nether regions despite her off-and-on emotional and sexual commitment to another cousin, Trenton police detective Joe Morelli, who relieved Stephanie of her virginity behind a bakery's pastry counter back when they were teenagers. Ranger is a Hunk Dressed in Black.
As I hinted earlier, the Stephanie Plum comedic thrillers, while always very funny, follow an invariable pattern. Author Evanovich apparently has a storyline template to which she religiously adheres. (And who would argue? It produces Best Sellers.) However, for those of us - well, at least me - loyally following Plum's keystone-cop antics, some significant deviation from the pattern would be welcomed. In TO THE NINES, the author breaks the mold just a little. For once, Stephanie gets out of Trenton on her quarry's trail - all the way to Las Vegas, NV - unreasonably harassed by airline security at every stop. And instead of demolishing the various cars and trucks loaned to her by Ranger, now it's the latter's employees who're imperiled by Stephanie's bad karma.
Finally, Stephanie's sister Valerie gives birth. This flips the switch on the former's own maternal instincts. Somewhere vaguely in her thirties, Stephanie isn't getting any younger and the Biological Clock is ticking. Do you suppose that Morelli is the man for the job? Of course, they'd have to get married first - an event that's proved maddeningly elusive in previous installments, much to the distress of Stephanie's Mom. Indeed, the plotting for future Plum novels involves potentially infinite permutations sure to keep fans buying books.
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