Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two For The Dough

Two For The Dough
Author: Janet Evanovich
Pocket Books, 1996
312 pages

Back in the early 1990s, I was into reading paperback mystery/adventure novels featuring female sleuths. A colleague in the office where I was working in Louisville, Kentucky got me hooked on Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski novels, which led me to Sue Grafton's Alphabet series. Unfortunately, by the time Janet Evanovich's series featuring New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum took off, I was growing weary of the genre. I read One For The Money when it was newly in paperback, but never read any of the others. Until recently.

Fast forward to present day. I'm living in another city, working at another company. I'm into mysteries again, and learn that my co-worker friend Lisa is also into mysteries. She's a huge fan of the Jersey Girl. In an effort to bring me up to speed, she gives me Books 2-6 and challenges me to read them. So once again, I'm influenced by a work colleague to read something.

OK, since I read One For The Money so long ago (circa 1995?), I was hazy on the supporting characters, but it didn't matter. Unlike a lot of the series books, you probably don't need to read Book 1 before reading Book 2. Evanovich sets things up quickly, and re-introduces Stephanie and her world, including Ranger (Stephanie's bounty hunter "partner"); Joe Morelli (her friend the cop, and let's just say they have a history); feisty, uninhibited Grandma Mazur; the greater Trenton metropolitan area; and Chambersburg, a/k/a the 'burg.

In Two For The Dough, Stephanie is out to apprehend Kenny Mancuso of the infamous Mancuso family (and one of Joe Morelli's many cousins). An ex-soldier, Kenny's got a reputation for being both cruel and nutty. As a child, he chopped off the end of his own little finger, just because he wanted to know what it felt like. Now he's chopping off miscellaneous body parts from cadavers at his friend Spiro's funeral home. He shot another friend in the knee, and now that friend is dead. Morelli thinks he might be caught up in a gun-running operation. Whatever the case, Kenny's on the run, and Stephanie is determined to bring him in. The result? Several nail-biting moments (and a few gross ones).

Evanovich has a way of making even the most ordinary things seem interesting, and she finds humor in unexpected places. Anyone in my generation could probably relate to Stephanie's relationship with her parents. Her father is aloof but endearing, and you really have to smile when reading about her mother's good cooking, which is "peppered" with unsolicited advice on men and careers. But Grandma Mazur is by far my favorite character; she reminds me a lot of Sophia on the TV show The Golden Girls.

I still have four more books left to read in Lisa's collection, and I'm sure she's going to want them back soon. Guess I'd better get reading so I can review Three To Get Deadly. (I don't think there's a Go, Cat, Go. Dang.)