One for the Money

September 25, 2013 Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

One for the Money four-stars
Series: Stephanie Plum #1
on 08/26/1994
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback

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Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash--fast--but times are tough, and soon she's forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family.

Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company. She's got no experience. But that doesn't matter. Neither does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water--wanted for murder.

Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn't. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she'll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight--and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man.

Review by Travis Starnes

This is the first in the Stephanie Plum series about an ex-lingerie saleswoman turned bounty hunter. To be honest the premise did not give me have high hopes for this book.  Many mystery novels that I read tend to feel very similar and the “smart mouth, strong willed armature bounty hunter” did not hold a lot of promise for me. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

For me the first and most important part of a mystery the quality of the mystery itself.  Is it a good chase with enough clues sprinkled in so you can figure out what is “really” happening but not so many clues that it is simple to guess the ending?  It really is a hard balancing act and in all honesty “One for the Money” does only an ok job at it.  The main reason for that is this book falls into one of the big mystery novel traps.  Evanovich just does not give you enough information to be able to figure out who the real bad guy is and what might happen.  Any conclusions you come up with before the end of the book would just be a guess.  That being said the mystery is interesting on its own and once you know all the reveals it is possible to look back over the story and see that the pieces do indeed fit together.

Rather than being a straight up mystery, which in my experience tends to be more procedural in nature, the story in “One for the Money” is more of a narrative about Stephanie’s life and adventures wrapped in a “who done it”.  What really makes this book work is what makes it unique among other mystery novels, the comedy. The story itself and the characters are legitimately funny.  There were sections of the book where I actually laughed out loud, which doesn’t happen often when I am reading most books and less so when it’s a mystery novel.

Stephanie Plum is a tough as nails marsh mellow and she is really what sells me on the book. In spite of being scared, totally out of her league, and completely out-gunned the whole book she never gives up.  Instead of the annoying plucky girl I was expecting when I picked up the book what you get is a main character that is truly endearing.  I found myself really caring about what happened to Stephanie and there wasn’t a point in the book where I wasn’t totally on her side.  It helps that she is a really fleshed out character that feels complete even if not always believable.  While many, if not most, of the side characters aren’t given the same loving care this is a first book in a series so I am confident they will get filled out as more installments are released.  They are the other thing that makes the story work.  Even the two-dimensional characters are funny and genuinely likable.  I look forward to seeing what her wacky cast of friends are up to in future books.

It’s not going to challenge you or keep you on the edge of your seat but if you like a fast, fun read or a light-hearted mystery, this book is for you.

four-stars
Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

2 Responses to “One for the Money”

  1. Tony

    I like a good mystery, but looking at this it seems more of a romance/chick lit then a mystery.

    • Travis Starnes

      Well, it’s not a classic “hard boiled” kind of mystery its true, but its also not exactly a romance. Its somewhere in between. A little more girly then I would normally read but the sense of humor won me over.

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