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One For the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)

One for the Money - Janet Evanovich

This is all Jason O'Mara's fault.

 

I was perfectly content never having touched this series, perfectly content with the righteous indignation* I felt every time I passed the display table at Barnes & Noble with the movie-tie-in editions of this book piled three-high, like some ode to Katherine Heigl's perfectly formed ass. It seems the universe had other plans for me.

 

*Righteous indignation fueled by I'm not sure what . . . my tastes aren't exactly Pulitzer grade.

 

It seems the universe had other plans for me, and those plans involved me watching the trailer (because Goodreads has it playing 24/7 right now in its sidebar ads), realizing that Katherine Heigl movie had Jason O'Mara in it too, and then giving in to my love of Jason O'Mara** by watching the trailer approximately fifteen more times. And then later, when I had stopped by Barnes & Noble to pick up my paycheck, impulse buying the mass market paperback*** and binge reading it in a single day. I am an American consumer.

 

**Jason O'Mara is hot, but he doesn't have great luck. Life on Mars was promising and I loved the character he played, but Terra Nova is kind of disaster, and he's so stuffy in it. But he is dead sexy as Joe Morelli.

 

***I tried my darndest to get the one without The Heigl on it, but all they had was the $14.99 trade paperback with the original cover, and if I was going to waste money on a splurge, it was going to be the least amount of money possible.

 

One for the Money follows newly divorced, newly unemployed and broke Stephanie Plum as she navigates the perilous world of bounty hunting for the first time. She had to blackmail her pervert of a cousin in order to get the job, and she’s determined to keep it. That means buying a gun, learning how to use a gun, and learning how to bend the law to her advantage (stealing cars, breaking and entering? not a big deal when you’re a bounty hunter). Her first target? Childhood friend Joe Morelli, a rascally cop who’s wanted for murder. Also, this one time she ran him over with her Buick because he took her virginity behind the pastry counter of the bakery where she worked in high school, and then never called. If she can bring him in, she gets $10,000. What follows is a violent, funny romp through New Jersey as Stephanie gets in over her head and has to find her out of a bunch of crazy, madcap adventures.

 

This was a quick, fun read. I’ve heard people describe it as “a popcorn book,” and that seems like the perfect description: Light, slightly substantial, full of salty zing — will probably make you sick if you eat too much of it. I liked the voices of the characters; they didn’t feel generic or idealized like characters in most popcorn books. They’re sassy. I liked Stephanie’s commitment to a job that is terrifying, and that she’s not very good at. I liked the inspired lunacy of Lula the hooker, and Stephanie’s overbearing but well-meaning family. And I love rascally Joe Morelli, probably because I read too many romance novels as a teenager, but whatever. I’m not going to analyze it. The relationship between Stephanie and Morelli is fun, because I’m a sucker for antagonistic sexually charged relationships in fiction, and because their relationship isn’t a main focus, and because the way they interact with each other is kind of hilarious, it doesn’t feel nearly as cliched as it could.

 

This is a line from the beginning of the book, when six year old Morelli takes six year old Stephanie into his garage to play “choo-choo,” which is the New Jersey version of playing doctor. What made me buy the book is the attitude dripping from this comment:

 

“At any rate, it was a one-shot deal and darn disappointing, since I’d only gotten to be the tunnel, and I’d really wanted to be the train.”

 

There are obvious flaws with the book. Maybe it gets better as the series goes along, but Evanovich’s writing is what I’m going to call grocery store prose (again, see the popcorn thing above). Stephanie also comes off a bit dumb in her insistence at not calling the police on a rapist/stalker because she wants to be seen as just as good as one of the guys. Maybe that’s just a 90s thing . . . I don’t see this as being much of a problem if this book were set in 2012. Which brings me to my final point, that this book is laughably dated. Like literally, it made me laugh out loud. I think some of this stuff may have been dated even in 1994. Stephanie spends most of the book wearing bicycle shorts and t-shirts the way most of us wear jeans (to work! and she thinks she looks good!). She is also frequently caught wearing scrunchy socks and Reeboks, and car phones are a big part of the plot. The best part about this is that she takes great care to describe her fashion choices to us, so you know she’s proud of them. But this isn’t a serious book, and it’s not mean to be taken that way, so really all the dated stuff just kind of adds to its charm. It’s meant to be fun and entertaining, and in that it certainly succeeds.

 

My only real complaint is that this freaking series has eighteen books in it . . . eighteen! I don’t need this in my life.