Review: Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

“I rented Ghostbusters, my all-time favorite inspirational movie. I picked up some microwave, popcorn, a KitKat, a bag of bite-sized Reese's peanut butter cups, and a box of instant hot chocolate with marshmallows. Do I know how to have a good time, or what?” ― Janet Evanovich, Two for the Dough

I love adventure/romance books. They combine the excitement and intrigue of a heist or a mystery with a bit of will-they-won't-they-OMG-they-are-and-in-the-back-of-a-Buick! I recently re-watched the film version of One for the Money, the first book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, and was reminded of how much I wish there were more films and books like this- romance but with the odd explosion or tasering. Some of Jennifer Crusie's books, such as Agnes and the Hitman, scratch that itch for me, but I would welcome suggestions of similar tales from my readers. Toni Morrison said “if there's a book you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, you must write it.” Maybe it's time I got on that. I'll let you know when my sexy, exciting chick lit/crime thriller gets past the first draft stage.

So far there are 23 novels in the Stephanie Plum series (Turbo Twenty-Three came out just last month), plus the four Between the Plums novellas, whose events take place in between several of the novels. I've read a couple of the Plum books before, but, since I was borrowing them from the library which never seems to have a complete series of anything, I'd read them out of order (I think 1, 11 and 15). Then a couple of weeks ago I hit payload when unpacking stock in the used bookstore where I work and found a few of them (mine! All mine!) so now I'm going to have a more serious crack at actually reading the series in order.

In Two for the Dough, bounty hunter, or “skip chaser”, Stephanie is still learning the ropes, so she has Ranger along to help her apprehend a small time crim named Kenny Mancuso, who has been accused of shooting his friend in the knee. Kenny just so happens to be the cousin of cop and former flame of Stephanie, Joe Morelli, so of course Morelli becomes involved in the case as well. Meanwhile Stephanie is hired by Spiro, owner of the local funeral home, to track down some missing caskets stolen from his storage locker. The plot thickens, with Stephanie and her family being threatened, severed body parts showing up, and of course the inevitable death of another of her vehicles.

Two for the Dough is a fun romp that enjoyed even more than the first book. It contains more of Stephanie's beloved Grandma Mazur, a tough, crafty old lady who is surprisingly good under pressure. There is more developing romance between Stephanie and Morelli (disappointing for those of us who are on Team Ranger), and I liked the way Stephanie can enjoy a casual roll in the hay with him if she feels like it without beating herself up about it afterwards. By the same token I enjoy the way she can eat food and enjoy it, and talk about it, without the shame women are taught to associate with enjoying eating. She also manages not to be too much of a Mary Sue character since, for example, she couldn't immediately shoot a gun confidence and accuracy the first time she picked one up.

If you want elegant, beautiful writing, it would be best to look elsewhere, since Evanovich focuses more on plot and humour. The very last line of the book is, unfortunately, silly and awkward sounding. However, the book did make me laugh a couple of times, the characters are engaging and the plot kept me interested enough that I'll be reading the next in the series: Three to Get Deadly.

Published: 1996

Rated: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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