Book Review One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Donna & her guide dog Hunter walk along path in Redwoods. There's a glowing mist: Photo by Rich Hill

OK, once again I am woefully late to the party. Scribner published this first novel in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in June 1994. To date, there are 20 numbered books with a few “between the numbers” holiday novellas and novels. Top Secret Twenty-One is due out in June, 2014. Of course, I live in a cave, so I didn’t even know about the New Jersey bounty hunter and her band of delightfully quirky friends and relatives until my neighbor mentioned the books to me a few months ago. She said they were “hilarious.” With seemingly gimmicky titles like One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly and so on, I was a little reluctant. Nonetheless, I’ve always appreciated my neighbor’s sense of humor.

I’ve read eight Stephanie Plum novels so far and I’m hopelessly hooked. I haven’t laughed this much in decades. As soon as I finished the first book, I started reading it again. These books beg to be read aloud, and the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped has done a superb job with them. Most are read by Annie Wauters, but Celeste Lawson reads the first and Dani Carr the second and third. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a friend with a print disability who will invite you over to have a listen.

Fair warning. Under no circumstances should you listen to these books while driving. First, you’ll need to have quick and easy access to the pause button, and more importantly, it is not safe to drive while you’re laughing so hard that you’re crying and peeing your pants at the same time.

If you need a break from the crime dramas with the well-crafted diatribes on the downfall of the democracy and the unflappable characters with superb competence in highly specialized fields (and trust me, you could use a break), get to know Stephanie. Told in the first person, these novels paint a realistic, endearing and of course hysterically funny portrait of a “girl from the burg,” a working-class Trenton neighborhood. Stephanie, who divorced her sleazy-lawyer ex after finding him on the dining room table with an old classmate, just lost her job and seeks employment at cousin Vinnie’s, where she falls into the world of bail enforcement, FTAs (failure-to-appears) and Trenton’s seedy and all-too-often brutal underbelly.

Evanovich is a master at capturing the relationships within a working class family and neighborhood. It’s something I can relate to. Stephanie’s father is retired from the post office. My Dad was also a postal employee throughout his working life. Mr. Plum is driving cab to get out of the house, while my Dad drove school bus. They both had their mother-in-law living with them, and they both were taciturn and reasonably successful at keeping their mouths shut thanks to the abundance of homemade food to which they could apply themselves.

Most impressive is Evanovich’s skill with dialog. No one does it any better. She also excels at portraying a young woman who is gutsy, honest with herself and who revels in making fun of her native New Jersey, even when she’s in over her head. Oh the laughs I’ve missed. I could have used some back in ’94, but no matter. Better late than never, and I think it’s trimming my waistline.

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About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity, inclusion and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college. A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, "Satori Green" appears in Richard Singer's Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012). From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and e-versions at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Smashwords, Create Space and other outlets. It is also available through Bookshare for readers with print disabilities.
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2 Responses to Book Review One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

  1. Janie Degenshein says:

    read all of them
    Glad you are on board with these
    If you want another series to make you laugh try
    the glady Gold series
    Getting old is murder by Rita Lakin
    Had her as a guest on the On the Bright side show and it is about a senior housing group of yentas
    trying to solve murders on the premises with their walkers, plungers and the like
    enjoy and let me know what you think
    Read in order and all are on BARD


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