JANET EVANOVICH – Two for the Dough. Stephanie Plum #2. Scribner, hardcover, 1996. Reprinted many times in paperback.

   I reviewed the first Stephanie Plum, One for the Money, an [issue] or two ago, and expressed surprise that I liked it as much as I did. I didn’t think it won any awards, but it was nominated for some. Evanovich’s prose and “voice” reminded me somewhat of Sparkle Hayter’s — glib, wiseass, and profane, maybe a little rougher.

   Our girl is still working as a bounty hunter for her bail bondsman cousin Vinnie, and is surviving. Barely. Then she gets handed a pickup on Kenny Mancuso, a “burg” (Stephnie’ s ethnic Trenton neighborhood) resident recently returned from the Army who shot his best friend in the leg and then skipped bail.

   Kenny happens to be the cousin of Joe Morelli, the cop with whom Stephanie has had a love/hate relationship dating back to childhood. Naturally things get complicated, and soon she and Morelli are up to their earlobes in trouble, with Stephanie’s somewhat eccentric Granny Mazur right in the middle of it all.

   I still think Evanovich has one of the most appealing and readable voices of the new crop, and I still like the character she gives the voice to. Even more than the first, though, this is a book that you need to tum off your brain to read, and just enjoy the characters and the prose.

   If you can do that, you’ve got another winner. I had a little more trouble doing it this time, either because the plot was even sillier than before, or I just wasn’t in as accepting a mood. l think maybe she needs to be read on the same basis as Kinky Friedman, really, which is to forget about plot.

   She has a great bunch of characters, though, and I really like her style. Granny Mazur is a hoot.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995


Bibliographic Update: #28 in the series, Game On was published earlier this year.