Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

November 17, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): It’s Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s “fugitive apprehension” agent (aka bounty hunter), introduced to the world by Janet Evanovich in the award-winning novel One for the Money.

Now Stephanie’s back, armed with attitude — not to mention stun guns, defense sprays, killer flashlights, and her trusty .38, Stephanie is after a new bail jumper, Kenny Mancuso, a boy from Trenton’s burg. He’s fresh out of the army, suspiciously wealthy, and he’s just shot his best friend.

With her bounty hunter pal Ranger stepping in occasionally to advise her, Stephanie staggers kneedeep in corpses and caskets as she traipses through back streets, dark alleys, and funeral parlors.

And nobody knows funeral parlors better than Stephanie’s irrepressible Grandma Mazur, a lady whose favorite pastime is grabbing a front-row seat at a neighborhood wake. So Stephanie uses Grandma as a cover to follow leads, but loses control when Grandma warms to the action, packing a cool pistol. Much to the family’s chagrin, Stephanie and Granny may soon have the elusive Kenny in their sights.

Fast-talking, slow-handed vice cop Joe Morelli joins in the case, since the prey happens to be his young cousin. And if the assignment calls for an automobile stakeout for two with the woman who puts his libido in overdrive, Morelli’s not one to object.

Low on expertise but learning fast, high on resilience, and despite the help she gets from friends and relatives, Stephanie eventually must face the danger alone when embalmed body parts begin to arrive on her doorstep and she’s targeted for a nasty death by the most loathsome adversary she’s ever encountered. Another case like this and she’ll be a real pro.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • I still think Stephanie Plum is a terrific heroine. I liked her in this book because she made realistic mistakes. She was neither too dumb, nor too perfect, which is the kind of character that I like. Now, if she’s still bumbling around by the 5th or 6th installment, I might start to have a problem with the author’s choices. But as for now, the characterization is good.
  • I liked that Stephanie was a bit more kitted out in this book. In addition to her trusty .38, she had pepper spray, a stun gun, and a flashlight, so she was far more prepared for stakeouts and confrontations with suspects. Next, she’ll need some dark clothing, one of those Luminox blackout watches, and an inconspicuous car (ESPECIALLY an inconspicuous car!) and she’ll be all set.
  • The stuff about the grandmother wanting to go to wakes and funerals was pretty funny. I usually don’t like those little subplots or secondary characters, but I could actually see old women acting like Grandma Mazur, so her comments cracked me up.
  • The Morelli-Stephanie relationship is fun for now; but I’m afraid it will get tiresome if there’s no payoff soon one way or the other.

Disliked:

  • The plot was a bit nebulous here. It was hard for me to care about either the army theft or the stolen caskets because not enough info was given about either. Yeah, I know this was a “mystery” novel, so not everything was going to be spelled out every step of the way. But it seemed that Evanovich was particularly stingy in releasing clues and details, making me lose interest quickly.
  • The undertaker guy (I already forgot his name) talked in the most annoyingly clipped way. I couldn’t tell what Evanovich was trying to do with him. Yes, he was supposed to be creepy, and I guess he was to a certain extent. But the dialogue was so awful as to be distracting, which is definitely not something the author wanted.

Rating:

While Two for the Dough certainly didn’t pack the same punch as One for the Money, I will continue to read the Stephanie Plum series. I was still sufficiently entertained to want more, and considering the fact that the author has cranked out 17 such novels, there must be at least some merit to them. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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