Wednesday, 28 November 2012

"Notorious Nineteen," by Janet Evanovich

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Notorious NineteenI must be slipping.  I normally buy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books in hardback the day that they come out, so impatient am I to read them.  This time, with a busy week at work, it had already been out for 4 days by the time I bought it.  I did make up for this, however, by starting it immediately and finishing it in a weekend.

The first thing that struck me was that the style of the cover was a bit different from usual: slightly more muted, less garish than the usual bright covers.  Just to prove that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the contents were pretty much the same as usual.  Stephanie is still broke and struggling to pay her rent, still living with her (by now, surely, rather elderly) hamster and still driving a barely functional car (which, typically, gets blown up in the first chapter).  Stephanie, desperate to make some money, takes on trying to find a high bond skip who disappeared from a hospital following an operation to remove his appendix, as well as agreeing to be Ranger's "date" for an event at which he needs some extra security.

In this novel - and this is a spoiler, but will surely be no surprise for fans of the series - Stephanie still fails to decide between Ranger and Morelli.  I read recently that Janet Evanovich was a fan of the series "Moonlighting," but felt that the sexual tension between the two leads was lost when they got it together.  This isn't unique to that series - just think of Mulder and Scully, or Niles and Daphne in "Frasier" - but there is an equal danger in trying to stretch that unresolved sexual tension past its limits of endurance.  I can forgive the Stephanie Plum series a lot, and I do, because I love it so much but, if I am honest, the sexual tension between Stephanie, Ranger and Morelli was probably stretched to its optimum point quite a few books ago. 

I love these books because they are an enjoyable comfort read, with familiar, warm characters and a sense of humour.  However, they have been starting to feel a bit samey for a while, and I am starting to realise that the Stephanie, Ranger and Morelli sexual tension - which on the surface I still enjoy - is a part of the problem.  There is no development in the series, which seems to just continue like Stephanie's seemingly immortal hamster, and it is only when she decides between Ranger or Morelli that the series will either be able to reach a satisfying conclusion or will start to take Stephanie somewhere new and different...