Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Four to Score / Janet Evanovich

For the first several weeks of this semester, it seemed like the name Janet Evanovich came up every class. I had never read her, so I picked this book in order to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn't disappointed.

For the uninitiated: Four to Score is book 4 in Evanovich's mystery series starring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Following Stephanie's hunt for yet another person who's jumped bail is kind of like watching the Three Stooges on a paint crew -- you know it's going to be a big mess. Because this likable but not-quite-put-together heroine manages to get into one scrape after another. Her house catches fire, her car blows up ... you name it, it's probably happened to Stephanie. But she always manages to overcome such obstacles and snag her bail-jumper in the end.

This is not a gentle read -- it contains obscenities and some sex. I'm not easily offended, but I was not sure I was going to get into the book when on page 3 Stephanie describes having caught someone "bare-assed on my dining room table, playing hide-the-salami with my husband." That's not an image I want in my head. But it didn't take much longer for her sarcastic narrator voice to grow on me, and once I reached that point, I was hooked.

One of this book's big appeals is its humor -- I literally did laugh out loud several times while reading it. And it has a lively cast of characters -- like Lula the retired prostitute (a large African American woman), Sally the professional transvestite (a dude who looks like a lady), and Stephanie's 73-year-old grandma. You can imagine Stephanie and her entourage turning many heads as they look for bail-jumpers around Trenton, on the Jersey shore, in Atlantic City, and elsewhere.

Above all, perhaps, reading Evanovich is a great escape. Doesn't matter much what you're escaping from. So, for me, the next time I'm feeling tired of the tediousness of everyday life, I might just crack open a book and hang out in Stephanie's world -- because there's never a dull moment there.

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