My rating: 2 of 5 stars
""I lined my eyes in midnight blue, gunked them up with mascara, painted my mouth whore red, and hung the biggest, brassiest earrings I owned from my lobes. I lacquered my nails to match my lips and checked myself out in the mirror.
Damned if I didn't make a good slut."
Janet Evanovich's One for the Money (1994) is the first novel in her long-running series featuring Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter. The series that always uses numerals in the titles has now reached the 24th installment but I am not sure whether I will read another one. While the protagonist is a relatively interesting character, the prose is marginally competent, and there are some smidgens of socio- and psychological observations, the literary convention completely puts me off. The novel is set up as a "light-hearted mystery" yet it deals with such light-hearted events as deaths, beatings, and torture. While I quite like "light prose" and am certainly interested in books that deal with life-and-death events I do not think that mixing the two conventions works.
The novel begins with the following cool passage:
"There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me - not forever, but periodically."Then Stephanie reminisces playing "choo-choo train" with Joe Morelli when she was six years old. Several years later their paths cross again, "behind the case filled with chocolate éclairs". And then again, three years later, when Stephanie tries to run the guy over with her car.
Well, Stephanie has now been laid off her job as a lingerie buyer, anything that could be sold or pawned is gone from her apartment in the predominantly Italian neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey, and she desperately needs a job. She blackmails her cousin Vinnie to get a skip tracing job in his bail bonding company. And guess what: her first case is to track Joe Morelli, who became a cop in the meantime, as he did not show for a court appearance in a case where he is suspected of killing an unarmed man.
Well, this light-hearted, rather inane caper involves an ex-special-forces operative schooling Stephanie in the craft of bounty hunting (yeah, right), her grandma shooting a heavy gun over dinner, a whitish substance - probably not tapioca - smeared on her door, and two well-intentioned prostitutes telling Stephanie what the "word on the street is" (ugh). Several people die, some are tortured, but Stephanie keeps strutting her light-hearted stuff. Sweet!
Other than the rather plausible and well-portrayed relationship between Stephanie and Joe and their interesting "story" one thing I really liked in the novel is the reference to how Stephanie removes the distributor cap from her car's engine to render it safe from stealing. This reminded me the days over 30 years ago when I needed to do it every evening when parking the car in front of our apartment building in San Diego.
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