Monday, 25 February 2013

Back to the Burg

Catastrophe-courting bounty hunter Stephanie Plum returns in Notorious Nineteen (2012), the latest addition to the best-selling series by Janet Evanovich.

Steph is in need of some cash after a fairly lean summer in the bail bonds business. When embezzler Geoffrey Cubbin skips bail, the opportunity to catch him and earn a percentage of his large bond is just what Stephanie needs. Unfortunately Cubbin disappeared late one night from a local hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Did he flee the country alone with his millions or did someone else assist him to escape? With the help of Lula and Grandma Mazur, Steph is on his trail. But so is Cubbin's ex-wife and the residents of Cranberry manor, the assisted living facility from which he allegedly stole.

In the meantime, Steph accepts another job - serving as a bodyguard working alongside Ranger. She has to protect the bride of Ranger's Special Forces buddy, even if it means wearing a ridiculous pink bridesmaid dress.

To further complicate matters Steph is concerned that the wooden tiki she confiscated from another skip is talking to her. If the tiki can compel her to buy donuts and fried chicken, what other bad choices might he lead her to make?

I have reviewed other Evanovich books on this blog (see Explosive Eighteen and Smokin' Seventeen) and have been critical of the formulaic writing and the lack of character evolution over the last twenty years. Loyalty compelled me to read them but I always ended up frustrated by the lack of character development and the boring love triangle that never goes anywhere.

There was something different in Nineteen, however. Characters were more reflective somehow - Morelli had mellowed, Steph was thinking about how her life could have been different if she'd made different choices, she ponders about what makes a good home. She even seems to be leaning towards one side of her love triangle. So perhaps the series is finally making a move in the right direction and growing up.

I would love for the next book to be bold and force Stephanie to wake up to herself. This could happen if Morelli moves on to another relationship and she is forced to decide what she wants out of her life. (For the record, she should decide on Ranger). Notorious Nineteen is in someways a return to the earlier Evanovich novels. I enjoyed Nineteen and I look forward to adventure number twenty.