Review: High Five

High FiveAfter a bit of a breather on the Stephanie Plum novels, last night I needed to uncramp my brain after a taxing week, and I knew Evanovich’s fare would be just the right kind of brain candy: humor without much meat, and just what I needed for something that wouldn’t keep me up all night.

I did finish it in just under four hours, but there was a little more to it than some of the previous books. I still fingered the bad guy about the time Plum pondered why he was outside the bank for an uncharacteristic smoke (pretty close to a spoiler, so scrub your mind if you don’t like those), but the fact that Plum was willing to help her family uncover the whereabouts of her no-good uncle despite the lack of pay-off brought a new level of both likeability and put-upon-ness (if you’ll excuse the coinage) to her character. He’s characterized in such a memorable way in such a few sentences it’s hard not to feel sorry for Plum for having this particular branch to her family:

Uncle Fred was someone I saw at weddings and funerals and once in a while at Giovichinni’s Meat Market, ordering a quarter pound of olive loaf. Eddie Such, the butcher, would have the olive loaf on the scale and Uncle Fred would say, ‘You’ve got the olive loaf on a piece of waxed paper. How much does that piece of waxed paper weigh? You’re not gonna charge me for that waxed paper, are you? I want some money off for the waxed paper.

It had the same high number of laugh-out-loud crazy moments, and the formula is definitely in full swing, with Plum tilting between her two love interests without doing much about either and managing to blow through a whole new series of cars. In fact, it’s Ranger and his urging to “broaden her horizons” that reminds the reader that Stephanie Plum really is a Jersey girl, who has a hard time leaving home without the big hair/big make-up look.

The irony of the computer programming little person Stephanie has a hard time actually hauling in to the police station first calling her a loser, then camping in her living room, and the other outlandish characters with which Evanovich predictably populates her novels ramps up the silly factor. On the other hand, “the champ” Ramirez is out of prison and stalking Plum and adds a spooky factor I wasn’t expecting.

In fact, I almost called foul on the ending of the story, since Evanovich has Plum calling a mystery man to come over to evaluate her little black dress… Luckily I also had the next book, so was able to read on first thing this morning.

All in all, there are still elements of ineptitude in Plum’s character that are stomach-churningly annoying to me. But if you’re looking for a good reason to laugh out loud and a decently engaging story to go with it… you could do a lot worse than continuing with this series.

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