Monday, July 4, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

I still look forward to the new Stephanie Plum novels, but I wonder if Janet Evanovich does.  She's been in a bit of a lull since about 13 or 14 - they're still fun, but a bit more routine.  I wonder if she's preparing to wind down the series around #20 or so.  That being said, Smokin' Seventeen is a nice diversion for a holiday weekend.

Vinnie Plum is back in business - his father-in-law is once again bankrolling the bail bonds office.  Unfortunately, the actual office was fire bombed at the end of Sizzlin' Sixteen so Vinnie, Connie, Steph, and Lula are now working out of Mooner's RV.  It's a nice plot device which allows for the proper amount of Mooner content - he's amusing, but a little bit goes a long way.  The lack of an actual office is not good for business, but the bodies appearing at the construction site where the office used to be are even worse.  The body of Lou Dugan, owner of a local topless bar and all-around shady character appears one morning, pinky-ringed finger reaching out as if signaling from beyond the grave.  Soon after, the decaying bodies of several of Dugan's business associates and poker bodies turn up - one of them addressed to Stephanie.  

This is not Steph's main problem, though - Morelli's Grandma Bella has put a sex curse on her, she still can't choose between Morelli and Ranger, and her mother has decided to fix her up with an old classmate who's returned to Trenton.  Dave Brewer was the captain of the football team back then, but now he's returned home after serving time for financial shenanigans in Atlanta - perhaps not an ideal mate, but he can cook, so Steph at least considers him until he gets creepy.  

All of this (as usual) is set against a framework of Lula's outfits, minor FTAs (including an alleged vampire and a capture that involves a fight over a bottle of wine), funerals, car death, and family dinners.  The ending seems a bit contrived, and while Smokin' Seventeen is entertaining, it's not particularly memorable.  Maybe Evanovich needs a Bella to put a spell on her - a good one that brings back the right balance of wackiness and tight plotting.

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