Girls Just Wanna Have Guns
First two disclaimers: Even though Girls Just Wanna Have Guns didn’t work for me, it may do so for others. And as the book is marketed at fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, I don’t consider it unfair to compare the two series.
Bobbie Faye Sumrall lives in a trailer in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with her small niece Stacey, and works at the gun counter of a store. In contrast to this seemingly innocuous picture, she also enjoys state-wide fame as a person whom ill luck, mayhem and outright destruction follow like a limpet. A recent adventure put her in touch with sexy FBI spec ops agent Trevor, but after a number of hot phone calls he has disappeared. At the same time her former boyfriend Cam, a police officer, might still be interested. Familiar constellation, anyone?
Four days after suffering through a really weird nightmare during which a man was shot, Bobbie Faye is cornered by her ditzy cousin Francesca in the store. Francesca needs Bobbie Faye’s help, because Francesca’s mum stole some diamonds from Francesca’s mob dad, hiding them before she disappeared and leaving behind a cryptic note indicating that Bobbie Faye knows where they are. Bobbie Faye reluctantly agrees to help Francesca, because it’s family, but in the next second a sniper starts to shoot at the store, and once she has managed to get outside, Bobbie Faye is abducted three (!) times in a row by parties in trucks, each of which expresses a strong interest in the diamonds and threatens her with death, torture, death to her family, etc… Out of the blue, Trevor turns up on a motorbike, and after she is threatened by a fourth party, a car is blown up and a house pulled down, Bobbie Faye can finally get down to looking for the diamonds.
Because reading this novel was such a very mixed experience, here’s what I liked and disliked.
On the plus side:
Bobbie Faye’s inner monologues. She has a distinctive, funny voice, and her very hectic inner musings made great reading. I particularly liked the scenes in which her emotions get personified and develop a life of their own.
The inventiveness of the plot. Car races, explosions, shoot-outs and similar events succeed each other at a truly mad pace. As a result, I never knew what would happen.
On the minus side:
The inventiveness of the plot. There was just too much, and after a while I stopped being interested.
The minor characters. There are a great number of quaint Cajun folks, but most of them are steeped in stereotype ocean-deep. The fat black lady doing voodoo? Check. The blind aunt who can see the future? Check. The crocodile-hunting Indian? Check. The gun-mad, bible-quoting old crone? Check. In fact, the only minor character I truly enjoyed was Benoit, a policeman who stuck out like a sore thumb because he was, well, ordinary.
Multiple death by convenience in the show-down. In a terribly obvious manner, everyone who is expendable bites the bullet, while those still useful for the sequel make it.
The heroes. In contrast to the Stephanie Plum series, it is made glaringly obvious far too early for my taste with whom Bobbie Faye will end up. Still, I will try to avoid spoilers. Cam, the policeman, is Bobbie Faye’s childhood pal. He is desperate to keep her safe at any given time – an impossibility – and is in the habit of shouting at her when she doesn’t obey his orders. He is tall, dark, handsome and all-around alpha male. The one attribute that is not straight from central casting is the fact that he is suffering from blinding headaches. The second hero, Trevor, is even worse. He exudes sex appeal all over the place (everyone remarks on it); he is masterfully capable in any situation; he has fallen in love with Bobbie Faye just from observing her and is so sure that she is the one that he already plans on marrying her; he treats her like an equal and leaves important decisions to her; he has no goal or interest in life outside caring for Bobbie Faye. Sounds like a list of most-wanted-in-a-hero? Believe me, it’s insultingly obvious bordering on the downright creepy. I felt manipulated every second I spent with Trevor.
So, I did not particularly enjoy Girls Just Wanna Have Guns. It lacks the whimsical humor and lightness of the Stephanie Plum series, as well as the gentle irony the main character is treated with. Instead it goes for broad strokes, high speed and stereotypes. This may well be another reader’s cup of tea, it surely wasn’t mine.