Ten Big Ones
I’m not wealthy enough to buy hardcover books just for fun. By the time I had my name on the list at the library for Ten Big Ones, I was 47th in line. But I was much higher on the list for the audio book, and so this review is based on listening to it over a two-day period.
Hard Eight and To The Nines were both a bit darker in tone than the usual Stephanie Plum adventures, but Ten Big Ones lightens up and stresses the comedy. Oh, there’s a bit of angst: Stephanie is still torn between Joe Morelli and Ranger, and toward the end she is in a very tight spot; but the book is about 98% humor and 2% everything else.
When Stephanie and her buddy Lula stop at a deli for some food, they run into the Red Devil Robber. This guy’s method is to rob the store, toss a molotov cocktail in the door, and then take off on a mountain bike. He gets his name from his disguise, a devil mask. Since Stephanie and Lula are around, his robbery is bungled. The mask slips, Stephanie sees his face, Lula shoots out his tires and the molotov cocktail bounces off the store and hits Stephanie’s new Ford Escape, which meets the fate of all her cars.
The Red Devil robber is connected with one of Trenton’s gangs, the Comstock Street Slayers, and they put out a contract on Stephanie. They bring in a guy from Los Angeles to go after her, and when Joe Morelli finds out about it, he goes nuts. He wants Stephanie to stay at home and even suggests she become a housewife. As if that’s going to happen. So Stephanie leaves Joe’s home. She can’t go back to her apartment since her sister Valerie and Albert Kloughn are living there, and Lula lives in a teeny apartment. But Ranger is out of town so Stephanie bunks in his place. Living so close to Ranger’s stuff is getting Stephanie pretty hot and bothered, but she still has to bring in her usual load of subjects, including a woman who went nuts on the Atkins diet and robbed a Frito Lay truck. Also, Valerie and Albert Kloughn are getting married, and Stephanie’s old buddy Sally Sweet the cross-dressing guitarist is the wedding planner.
I had to pull over a couple of times because I was laughing so hard I thought I’d lose control of the car. The reader, Lorelei King, is wonderful, especially when she does the Jersey accents. Sally Sweet is driving a school bus now, and King gives him a voice that is a lot like Otto the bus driver on The Simpsons. It suits him perfectly, especially since he, like Otto, refers to the kids as “little dudes.” Sally provides a lot of laughs especially when he performs rap at Valerie’s wedding shower dressed in a red chiffon cocktail dress.
Ten Big Ones is short and episodic. I looked at the book in the store and it has large print and lots of white space. People who are looking for some closure or resolution to the Stephanie/Joe/Ranger relationship can forget it. I thought that Stephanie had pretty well settled on Joe, but Ranger throws her a big curve in this book. I’ll let you all discover what it is on your own.
This series simply can’t be taken seriously. Stephanie scales new heights of TSTL behavior in this book. If this were in the real world, she would have long since been fired by any half-way sensible bond agent. If this was the real world, car insurance agents would be padlocking their doors when they saw her, and if by some miracle she got coverage, I’ll bet her premium would be the size of my yearly salary.
If a reader begins Ten Big Ones expecting logic and sensible behavior, she’ll be pretty well put off by it. So, just look at it and the whole series as the book equivalents of a Tex Avery cartoon and take it for what it’s worth. The Stephanie Plum series is as funny as can be, and the characters are likeable, even though they are silly. If I want a good, serious detective story, I’ll read a book in Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch series; but for humor Evanovich can’t be beat.