#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter E

Janet Evanovich

The first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money, was published in 1994 but I didn’t start reading the series until after I saw the movie version that came out in 2012.

The series follows a New Jersey woman who decides to make some money by working in a relative’s bail bonds office as a bounty hunter. She isn’t good at it but she knows a lot of people so she can track people down. As of 2023 there are 30 books in the series.

So, is this a series that is worth your time? If it is, do you need to start at the beginning?

It’s complicated. This is a series that is made to be fun and definitely not serious. When I started reading and listening to them on audio they were addictive at first. But the more I read, the more they started to bother me.

This is a series that doesn’t let the story grow or evolve. It doesn’t appear that any time has passed. After 30 books these characters should be getting older but not even the pets seem to have aged in the books I’ve read. We’re definitely in an Simpsons-esque universe here.

The characters are also very shallow. Each has a very defined set of characteristics and they do the same things over and over. Grandma is loud and likes to go to funerals. Mom is embarrassed by everything. Lula is an overweight Black ex-prostitute who likes to wear tight clothing and wants to be a bounty hunter but isn’t good at it. Yeah, it is cringey.

Then there is the love triangle. Stephanie goes back and forth between her “boyfriend” Joe and a security expert Ranger. Joe is a cop who doesn’t really want a commitment but who she is supposed to want to be with. Ranger flat out tells her he doesn’t want a relationship but he keeps buying her cars whenever she totals hers once a book. Honestly, it got exhausting. (Team Ranger, by the way. Joe is the kind of guy who never looks up from his own life to see that there are other people around until he needs them for something.)

I went to Goodreads to look at the reviews of book 30 to see if I was wrong and there were huge plot shifts. A lot of people were complaining that still nothing had changed. On the other hand, lots of people love that about this series. You know EXACTLY what you are getting when you read one of these books. If you want to try them I’d suggest reading the first book to get the set up and then you could probably read any one you want.