I parachuted into the Janet Evanovich empire at Lean Mean Thirteen – still my favourite of the canon. But like every amateur sleuth I’ve always wanted to go back to the beginning. How did it all start? Both for Janet and her heroine, the great Stephanie Plum.
Last week I was in luck. Malvern Library just happened to have a copy of One for the Money on its shelves. And there she was. Stephanie Plum, back in the days when she was merely an ex lingerie buyer, Lula still a prostitute, and Joseph Morelli still the boy who made Stephanie play the “Choo-choo’ game in his Dad’s garage.
The novel proved an eye-opener, and not just for introducing me to Stephanie’s distinctive way with automobiles. The writing here is denser than in the later novels. Janet describes more, in more depth, and with more variety.
The violence is also more pronounced. Ramirez proves a terrifying foe. Make no mistake, Stephanie really suffers in this book. And as she stumbles deeper and deeper into the mad, bad world of bounty hunting we experience real fear for her.
What fascinates me is that these pluses don’t necessarily produce a better novel. By Lean Mean Thirteen, Janet Evanovich has honed her craft. Long descriptions are gone. Aspects that worked in the earlier novels are ramped up to produce a more polished, genuinely comic tone.
Now I wonder if the Little Gods of Malvern Library will be kind to me. Next time I venture North toward Graham Rd, what are the chances that Two for the Dough will be there waiting for me?