It's more than four months old, but it's still worth reading...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Fearless Fourteen, by Janet Evanovich
As I began this fourteenth tale of the adventures of Stephanie Plum, inadvertent New Jersey bounty hunter, I wondered a little at my own perseverance through a series that is in some ways all too predictable. But then I realized that the element of predictability in a Stephanie Plum novel is not a fault but one of its charms.
Evanovich sets up what might be called an eternal situation--The Burg, Lula, Ranger vs. Morelli, Grandma Mazur, and so on. Out of this stock context, she elaborates new themes. In this one, we've got griefers, we've got an aging celebrity, we've got a psychic stalker, and we've got a kid who goes by the name of Zook and who really likes to advertise himself.
I don't mean to write a dissertation on what Evanovich does, but I did really pay attention this time rather than just speeding on through, easy though it would have been to do so, because I wondered why her novels continue to jump to the top of my reading pile. Isn't it basically the same story told over and over again?
Yes, in some ways it is, and frankly I do get tired of some of the shtick. Ranger or Morelli--who cares? But Evanovich seems infinitely capable of finding comedy in every new thing that comes along, and if you read individual sentences instead just being swept along in the easy flow of the thing, you will be impressed by her comic perception of life, as well as the way she makes dialogue a servant of her humor.
Comedy looks easy, it almost has to to succeed, but it's not. There are not many people who could have gotten fifteen books worth of humor out of Trenton, New Jersey. (Yeah, there's one I haven't gotten to yet, close reader.)It seems obvious now that Trenton was rife with material. Let's just say that it didn't seem so much so before Evanovich came along. One of the most touching tributes that I ever read about Evanovich was when some on-line friends, I think visiting from another country, shared with wonder their glimpses of Trenton. This is not a conversation you would likely have heard before the advent of Stephanie Plum. Let's hope she's around for a long time to come.