Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
November 20, 2012
Bantam; 320 Pages
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.
The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory. . . . (from the book jacket)
I've read this book before...
At least that's what my notes say. What I mean is, after so many adventures with Stephanie and the gang the books have become well, familiar. In the case of Notorious Nineteen that isn't necessarily a bad thing as the rest of my notes say things like, "it was a fun and easy" and "I'm glad I decided to give it a chance." It has all the things I know and love about Stephanie plus the right blend of funny characters and wacky hijinks. I got a big kick out of Tiki and the trip with Lula to Atlantic City to catch a skip. I also felt like the story's mystery has a bit more substance than recent offerings.
But for me there is something bigger at hand, and I find myself wondering,
is it time for us to say goodbye?
It seems like I've been in this situation a lot recently and I'm not sure what to do. Several of my favorite authors write series that have been going on for years with no apparent end in sight. And I have to ask myself when is the right time to say goodbye?
Let's take Stephanie as an example. I love her! For years her antics have made me laugh out loud. I've looked forward to dinner with her family and found myself torn between Ranger and Morelli. I've gotten to know the people she works with and the people of Trenton. I am concerned that no one ever bats an eye when her car is blown up, and I think the use of a rocket launcher is extreme even in Jersey, but I'm willing to accept it as part of the formula.
With each book I've been content to read what amounts to the same story over and over again. Oh, the names changes and there are always variations in the skips personalities and crimes. Sadly for me it has become predictable and dare I say stagnant. I think around book 10 or 12 I started hoping that something big would happen. Maybe she would travel outside of New Jersey. Maybe there would be a pregnancy or at least a scare. Maybe she would be forced to choose between Ranger and Morelli or maybe there would be a new love interest. The jacket of 18 raised my hopes with talk of a Hawaiian adventure, but instead of setting the book there we were back in Trenton with only a glimpse of what happened on her trip. How much fun and trouble could we have had in a fresh location like Hawaii?!
For quite a while I've been waiting for Stephanie to grow up. But like the kids from Mystery, Inc. in the Scooby Doo cartoons she seems to be trapped in a time warp. That's when it dawned on me. These books really are similar to 1/2 hour shows like The Simpsons, King of the Hill and yes, Scooby-Doo. In each episode the regular cast has an adventure. The same characters show up again and again, no one ever ages, and at the end of the show the mystery, problem or event is neatly wrapped up. At first I was comparing the books to 1/2 hour sitcoms (like Seinfeld, Fraiser or Friends), but I think the cartoons are a better fit because of the aging thing. Now let me say that I love The Simpsons and Scooby-Doo and right now I can't get enough of King of the Hill. But I'm not sure that's what I want from my books. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love and appreciate "lite" reading and the pleasure I get from a funny story that doesn't require much effort on my part. But my time is valuable and I have to ask myself, do I want to spend the time I set aside for books reading something I've read so many times before? And more importantly do I want to risk ruining the relationship I've enjoyed for so long because I'm jaded by her lack of development?
When I sat down to read 19 I approached it with an open mind and no expectations for changes in the story line. I knew what I was in for and that was ok. Because of this I found that I enjoyed it much more than the last 3 or 4. But that still doesn't make me feel great about it.
So how long does Ms. Evanovich plan on keeping Stephanie around? I have to wonder if she is content to keep writing these books or is she ready to wrap things up and move on? I suppose it might be hard to retire a character who consistently spends several weeks a year at the top of the NY Times best seller list (it's #8 this week), and lets face it is likely the primary source of income.
Personally I am ready to say goodbye. It's time for something new. We've shown it by embracing the Wicked series as well as the light- hearted Love in a Nutshell. I know I'm looking forward to the upcoming The Husband List with Nutshell co-author Dorien Kelly that comes out January 8 much more than #20 in the Plum series.
There are several authors facing this dilemma. Perhaps Ms. Evanovich will take the lead and gracefully end Stephanie's reign as the most beloved bounty hunter ever. And then we can all feel good about the time we spent together!
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing part of your day with me.
One of the great things about books is we all respond to them differently. Everyone has an opinion and there is no right or wrong. I'd love to hear what you thought of this book, and invite you to share your views in the comment section.
Wishing you all the happiness words can bring!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me!
APL Book Club
This Month's Title
My Latest Reads
What did you think of this book? Is there a title you think I should read, or something you'd like me to review?
Go ahead and let me know, I'd love to hear from you!
Come Back Soon!
I publish reviews often. Sign up for my RSS Feed below to make sure you don't miss a thing!
Just So You Know
All of the opinions expressed here are my own and in no way represent the positions, opinions, feelings, views, or beliefs of the Athol Public Library.
I am not paid to write my reviews. Any mistakes or misrepresentations are my own and are not the responsibility of the library, publisher or anyone else.