I am never sure about book series that involve alphabetical titles (e.g., Sue Grafton) or numbers (yes, Janet Evanovich). But, I admit to being hooked on the sort of crazy, not challenging reads of Evanovich's featuring Stephanie Plum. (Thanks, by the way, to blog.newsok.com for the picture of the book.) Steady readers of the section of this blog focused on murder mysteries know that; I mention her on occasion, though I have never reviewed anything before. No, I have never read her romance-y type books, just one through fifteen. And yes, I do wonder if Grafton will stop and kill Kinsey Millhone at Z or whether, like an opera house or movie theater, she will go on to AA through ZZ. In Evanovich's case, of course, there is no real upper limit but the imagination, I suppose. And, she still has imagination, even though there are occasional moments when Plum and her pals seem a bit stale. Not this time, though. Why? Because the foodie themes of her novels -- which usually consist of Plum's mother's cooking (often pot roast), her own efforts to deal with food (peanut butter and anything sandwiches, and food from Mr. Clucky's) -- just got a bit more heated. Yep, the body in this one is a guy named Chipotle whose barbecue sauce is famous and who is in town for a cook off. Between that and Mr. Clucky, that's about all there is to the foodie theme that goes with number fifteen's title, Finger Lickin' Fifteen. Oh wait, no, there's also the various attempts to concoct a barbecue sauce; steady readers of Evanovich will not be surprised that things get set on fire, explode, and . . . occasionally turn out edible. And, of course, fans will not be surprised by the bad guys -- nor by the ongoing romances between Plum and Morelli (on a brief hiatus here) and Ranger (who has his own trouble this time out). Nor will you be surprised by Lula or Granny or. . . . But hey, formula fiction is great in part when it gets the right ratio of formula to novelty.
By the way, the book is a signed one I got at the bookstore at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. No, I do not think the signature makes this book any more (or less) valuable than it was before Evanovich wrote her name on the blank page. Murder mystery readers who have read John Dunning's Bookman series (aka his Cliff Janeway series), know that the operative word in valuing books has to do with the combination of RARE with HAS A MARKET and, of course, in this case the first is undoubtedly absent. But, having a signed book is fun - and makes the book even more woth the hour or two it takes to breeze through Stephanie Plum's New Jersey. So, read it for the fun, not the foodie, nor the literary, panache. Have fun.
For her WIckipedia biography, try clicking the little blue spot to the left. You'll find more than her original (unmarried) name there. Among other things you will discover she went to a women's college. Hurrah.
For a contest to name book 16, click here. It ends August 2009, so get cracking! (If you need inspiration, click here for a youtube of Johnny Cash singing Sixteen Tons. Trust me, its worth few minutes. If you prefer Tennessee Ernie Ford's version (and are shocked it is on youtube), click here. (NO, I did not enter it; go ahead if you want.)