Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Lean Mean Thirteen' by Janet Evanovich

ISBN: 0312349491
Format: Hardcover, 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $27.95

There was a time when I would rush to my local bookseller and pick up the latest in the Stephanie Plum series the day it came out. I would not get anything done until I had read it cover to cover . I haven’t rushed out the same day since Hard Eight. I hate to admit but I don’t even go out the next day. I’ve gotten to the point with this series that I don’t wait for the paperback but it is not the priority it once was.

There are a lot of reasons to love Stephanie Plum. Unfortunately it seems that lately there are some reasons to not like her as much. When this series first started it was gritty, funny too, but it had an edge that for me has dulled over time. I guess this should be expected or maybe, and I can admit this, it might just be me.

The books have gotten shorter, more choppy, as the series has progressed. If you have read any of Ms. Evanovich’s earlier work, titles that are being re-released such as Back to the Bedroom, you can see some similarities. It feels as if less time is going into a Plum book. The writing is not as tight, nor does it flow quite as well. I still enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but Stephanie isn’t who she used to be and no amount of car explosions, dead bodies, and big sloppy dogs can change that.

The love triangle is another story. There are plenty for and against the continuation of the back and forth between Ranger and Morelli. But I’m tired of the limbo. There is no definition and it has lost it’s appeal for me. She has slept with both men, the sexual tension that was once white hot is a dull red no matter what is done to try to pump up the action.

Lean Mean Thirteen is mediocre. Stephanie is still doing her bond enforcement thing, Morelli is doing his cop thing, Lula is Lula , and Ranger is… well just Ranger. The characters feel as if they are in a holding pattern. Scenes that should have been funny fell flat and the mystery with Stephanie’s ex-husband Dickie, while good, just seemed to be missing something.

When Dickie goes missing Stephanie falls under suspicion for his possible murder. Wanting to clear her name, she starts to look into what her ex had been up to and uncovers a money-laundering scheme. Unfortunately for her she gets caught sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong, and becomes a target for a crazy flamethrower wielding psycho.

There were hints that possible change is around the corner but I have to wonder why we didn’t see more change here? Stephanie is keeping Ranger at arms' length but there is no action with Morelli. She is also thinking about the fact that maybe a home like her mothers wouldn’t be too bad but admits to herself that she thinks it’s a dream she could never realize.

There were some good things about this book. Exploding road-kill, Dickie Orr gets his nose broken, and Stephanie staples a man's private parts. I didn’t laugh out loud, but it was pretty funny. I enjoyed Lean Mean Thirteen while I read it. But once I was done I was not satisfied with the ending. Not as funny as previous books have been but with a decent mystery; I would just recommend to wait for the paperback to come out.

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