Visions of Sugar Plums
Romance authors have been writing short stories and novels with a Christmas theme for years, and lately mainstream authors have jumped on the bandwagon. Mary Higgins Clark has written a slim Christmas book for several years now. Last year, Jan Karon published The Mitford Snowmen and John Grisham released the wildly popular Skipping Christmas. This year, David Baldacci joins in with The Christmas Train. So why not a Christmas story featuring our favorite Jersey Girl?
It’s getting close to Christmas in the burg, but Stephanie Plum hasn’t got the spirit yet. Ebenezer Scrooge got visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come. Not to be outdone, Stephanie has a hunky blond guy named Diesel appear in her locked apartment. Diesel isn’t a ghost, but he says he’s supernatural. He must be telling the truth since can get through locked doors. Stephanie is cool with that.
Crime does not stop during the Christmas season and Stephanie has a case. An itinerant toy maker named Sandy Claws is wanted for burglary, and Stephanie has to bring him in. Diesel goes along since Sandy Claws is somehow related to a case he’s working on involving a supernatural guy named Ring. Supernatural helper or not, since this is a Stephanie Plum case, chaos ensues. But before he leaves, Diesel manages to bring a merry Christmas to all.
If you have read any of Janet Evanovich’s books you know what to expect. And that’s the trouble with Visions of Sugar Plums. I felt like the author had a checklist and inserted the appropriate scene where it was indicated. There wasn’t anything really fresh and funny and for the first time since One For The Money, I read one of Evanovich’s books in a public place and didn’t have to quit because I was laughing. Oh I smiled a time or two, but that’s about it.
We have dinner at Stephanie’s parents house and Grandma Mazur acts outrageously, Stephanie loses her gun, and bungles an attempt to capture Sandy Claws. Does Stephanie destroy her car? Well, do Jersey Girls have big hair? Morelli drops by to smolder in his bad boy way, Lula does a shopping scene, Rex is still the best pet in the world, a couple of characters from earlier books show up, Randy Briggs the dwarf and Albert Kloughn the ambulance chasing lawyer (I wanted to see Sally Sweet). Only Ranger is missing in action. Oh yes, about the characters – Stephanie’s niece Mary Alice, who thinks she is a horse gets my vote for the most annoying kid ever. Please Janet Evanovich, get the kid a new schtick. Please!!!
Visions of Sugar Plums is short, only 160 pages in hardcover and I read it while I was waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I read it again, just to make sure my initial reaction was not colored by waiting in an office, but it remained the same – an okay read, but I’d hate to think I paid $19.95 (harcover price) for something this slight. I’ve read many a romance short story set during the Christmas season that had lots more substance for lots less money. If you are collecting a complete set of Stephanie Plum books, and money is no object, treat yourself, otherwise I’d pass on this one.