I liken this book to a can of Pringles, or bag of cookies. You know when you break the snack open that it’s not the best thing for you, but that’s fine because you’ll have only one or two. Okay, maybe you’ll only have two or three. And then by the time you finally summon the resolution to just put the munchies down, you’ve eaten three-quarters of half the container.
I’m pretty sure this is going to happen to me as I guiltily check out the rest of the Stephanie Plum series.
When you’re unemployed, have sold all your furniture, and have next to no food in the house, most people get desperate. Stephanie Plum is no exception, and her desperation leads her to blackmailing her cousin into giving her a shot at his bail bond agency. The problem is that Stephanie is not exactly bounty hunter material- she’s an ex-lingerie buyer whose only experience with law enforcement is the charming ex-cop to whom she sold a cannoli, both literally and euphemistically, when she was sixteen.
Of course that ex-cop is now wanted for his court date, and since the payoff for bringing him in is $10,000, Stephanie leaps at the case.
I really wasn’t expecting to like this book. I knew it to be something that was straight-up brain candy, and while I love brain candy, this one didn’t quite sound like my cup of tea. When I heard about the New Jersey setting, it sounded like a set-up for a dozen clichés (thanks, Jersey Shore…) and it didn’t really seem like there would be much to the story that would be surprising or engaging. Stephanie would start off completely clueless, and by the end she would be competent, the guy she was looking for would be innocent (because hot guys usually are in such stories), and she might make a few friends along the way.
And to be fair, that’s pretty much what happened. But I wasn’t expecting to actually laugh aloud at some points in the story. I wasn’t expecting Stephanie to grow on me as much as she did. She reminded me of what Nancy Drew might have been like if Nancy had been working class and had to deal with a crazy grandmother whose first action on seeing a firearm is to shoot the chicken dinner with it. And since I got hooked on mysteries because of Nancy Drew… well, I realized midway through the story that I’d gotten attached to Stephanie without meaning to. I wanted to know if she could get her act together enough to not get killed. And it was actually kind of awesome to see Stephanie grow a spine as the story progressed. She did it in a way that was halfway believable- there was no turning into Chuck Norris overnight, but she didn’t make too many of the same mistakes twice (though she does make many blunders of a varied nature).
Is it great literature? Absolutely not. The writing’s brisk, but nothing to write home about. Is it way more fun than it should be and a really good way to pass a few hours on a rainy day? Yes, despite the story’s occasional darker turn.
In fairness, I should add that my brain might have been so fried from my hemorrhage-inducing summer reading that I might have been a bit biased in favor of fluff. Regardless, I’ll still be checking out Two For The Dough next time I’m at a library.
Maybe I’ll grab a few Pringles to go with it. You know, just one or two. For each chapter. And each exploding car. And each shot fire. And each time Stephanie orders pizza…
You get the idea.