I got my hands on the latest Janet Evanovich book, Takedown Twenty.
While I haven’t enjoyed the last couple of books in the Stephanie Plum series, I do still have a soft spot for them as these were the books that got me into the bumbling female mystery solver style of book. So I bought it and read it anyway. I had to read it quickly as my mother likes to read them and she knew I’d bought it. Since I was staying at her secret house on the Tablelands for the weekend while she was down in Cairns working and parenting my stupid brothers and sisters at her other house, it was only fair I give her something in return as payment for my daughter having seventeen baths and using all her hot water by the time she arrived back there Sunday night.
Stephanie is trying to hunt down Uncle Sunny, a beloved dude who also happens to be Morelli’s godfather. Because what else can you introduce into a world where by the twentieth book you’re kind of sick of Stephanie still refusing to carry a gun despite finding herself getting shot at, threatened and generally needing some kind of rescue, a world where Stephanie hasn’t learned a single goddamn thing and all the craziness with her family has already been played for laughs – add someone elses’s family of course, because crazy Grandma Bella loves to put that eye on people.
Ranger also asks her to help investigate a series of murders of old ladies, presumably not because he has faith in her investigative ability (because she still hasn’t got any) but more to tap her mother and grandmother’s NSA-like radars for local gossip.
Stephanie almost had a moment of clarity where she might have made some kind of progress in deciding whether she wanted to bone Morelli or Ranger but then she resolved it by sleeping it off and it was dropped. For goodness sakes, this woman was in her thirties in the first book, how freaking old is she now? Grow the fuck up. She vacillates between the two like a manic toddler deciding on two sugar laden treats. She wants to screw them, but isn’t so sure about an actual relationship with either. Any toddler knows that the best way to solve it would be to have both the tasty treats and then go in search of another.
Then there’s the giraffe. A giraffe running around in New Jersey that appears to be quite adept at hide and seek. Because that wouldn’t be unusual at all. Has anyone seen a giraffe? They kinda stand out. Was Evanovich so tired of writing that she just plucked a plot point out of thin air? It sure seems so.
Sigh. I love this series. I really do. But this book was almost totally unmemorable for me. I barely engaged reading it because I felt like I’d read it before. It’s become formulaic and the characters have shown absolutely zero sign of personal growth in twenty books, beyond Morelli inheriting a house from his dead aunt.
Stephanie should be well into her thirties by now since she was thirty-something in the first book. Surely she would have a) stopped sucking so hard at her job, b) gained 50kg from all the donuts (seriously if I ate like her I’d be the size of a house), c) realised that being mid 30s and almost constantly broke due to a job she sucks at with intermittent pay isn’t cute anymore, d) worked out what to do about her stupid love triangle or even e) worked out how to make a decision independently. Argh!
All of the characters remain pretty static and the same as they always have been. TIME TO MIX IT UP! Make them grow a bit, give them some new skills and then pull the rug out from under them with a totally new spin on something. The fun is still there, it’s just buried way deep under regurgitated plot lines and a proven formula that suffers from chronic fatigue.
Having just read an entire series the week before where the female protagonist is also thrust into a pretty hardcore job she doesn’t necessarily like/is good at, reading this was like having a delicious decadent dessert and looking forward to more, only to find out dessert is now some kind of vegan compost.