The first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money, was published in 1994. I read it a few years ago and what I remember most was the description of the hoity toity “car phone” and how Plum used all of Joe Morelli’s cellular minutes. Since Plum’s debut there have been twenty books published with the twenty-first coming out in 2014. Thus far the Plum novels are Janet Evanovich’s most popular series but that hasn’t stopped the author from wisely trying to write a narrative for another heroine. After all, Plum may still be the bounty hunter with bounce in literary form but realistically she is way into middle age and her hamster Rex should have long gone into that spinning wheel in the sky.
Taken from Plum’s Between the Numbers books, Evanovich uses the handsome otherworldly Diesel and introduces him to Salem, Massachusetts based baker Elizabeth “Lizzy” Tucker who, like him, has special abilities. The first book of the series, Wicked Appetite came out in 2010, its sequel, Wicked Business was published in 2012. Both books revolve around stones that each has ties to one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Listen, no one reads the majority of Evanovich’s literary efforts for deep thoughts and insightful opinions, they are fun novels whose plots are forgetful within an hour after completion. I do not write this in judgment because I believe there are times in your life that you just want to chill out with an amusing story that is not going to overly challenge you as a reader – sort of like watching one of The Real Housewives franchises. For the longest time Evanovich’s books fit that bill, but… sigh, after about reading three or four of her novels they all start sounding the same. At least the Stephanie Plum character was ground breaking in a fun way, Lizzy Tucker just feels like a one dimensional imitation.
At the heart of the Wicked novels are flimsy plots which are too weak to carry the odd roundup of characters. The humor falls so flat you can almost hear it splat. Evanovich’s style has always been one to mix humor into what in the real world would be frightening events, but in the Wicked series her attempts just do not jell. For instance one of the characters goes around dressed as some Renaissance Fair reject while carrying a sword and praising his “master.” He is meant to be comic relief and every other character in the novels take swipes at him however there are instances in the stories where he actually threatens and causes harm which is not funny. You cannot have readers thinking this guy is the court jester and on the next page tell them he has tied someone up and cut them with his sword.
This summer I read Wicked Appetite and today I finished Wicked Business and let me tell you, Business felt like it was assigned reading about South Dakota tax codes which I dare guess was not Evanovich’s intention. Allow me to also note frustration that Lizzy or Diesel cannot do anything in regards to their mutual attraction because of a threaten loss of supernatural abilities. If Evanovich wants to play it like that fine, but there are only so many times you can read about Lizzy baking cupcakes and Diesel eating them.
Obviously I am not going to recommend either book despite being a fan of novels which deal with the supernormal. They might make okay pool reading, but honestly, summer is long over and there are better books out there…heck, they are better Evanovich novels.