Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Three to Get Deadly

Three to Get Deadly, by Janet Evanovich
Format: hardback
5 stars

After reading two books and listening to another, as well as seeing the movie version of One For the Money, it is official. I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. It is a series that is clever, exciting, and extremely funny. And Three to Get Deadly is the best so far, which is why I rushed to the library the day after I finished it to pick up the next book in the series.

In this book, obviously the third in the series (I love that I don't have to consult a list to figure out which book comes next!), Stephanie is sent out to find another fta, or Failure to Appear in bond-recovery agent speak. This time, she is going after one of the most beloved members of the burg, a candy store owner affectionately known as Uncle Mo. Since he is so well known and loved, as soon as the news hits the grapevine, Stephanie finds herself being scolded and even cursed by everyone from former teachers to her own mother. As she searches for Uncle Mo, she discovers that this supposed saint actually has a darker side and a few masked supporters who are determined to frighten Stephanie off the case. While investigating Uncle Mo Stephanie also gets a secondary, "easy" pickup to work on which leads to the mall and a chicken restaurant. I was almost rolling on the floor with laughter when I read her encounter with the chicken character. I won't say anything more about that, but it did lead to plenty of jokes from her friends.

I think the magic of this series comes not just from Evanovich's sense of humor, but also from her ability to create intensely likeable characters. There is Stephanie, of course, but the secondary characters add even more flavor. We get to see a little of Stephanie's nagging mother and a few glimpses of Grandma Mazur (this caused some of my only disappointment with the novel - I loved her character in Two for the Dough). Of course, there is more of Ranger and Joe Morelli to sigh over. And while Grandma Mazur was sort of a scene stealing side-kick in the last book, in this one we have Lula, the ex-hooker who now works in Vinnie's office as a file clerk. I do have to admit, however, that the bad guys in this book weren't as well written as the ones in the previous novels, but I still think that this one is my favorite so far.

I think my love of this series comes from the fact that it is just so satisfyingly readable. You're not going to get non-stop, heart -racing action, terrifying psychos, or a lot of technological and scientific forensic mumbo-jumbo. Don't get me wrong, I do like those elements sometimes, but they're not necessary for a book to be good. And while this series is sexy, it is more of a real-world, humorous sort of sexiness. I guess it goes back to the series being more character driven than scene or action driven. You also probably won't get any really intense emotions from these books like sadness and fear. Yes, some scenes are a little scary, but it is always tempered with humor. These books just have an appealing way of making you feel good that continues to earn them high ratings with me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: Curse of the Spellmans

Curse of the Spellmans, by Lisa Lutz
Format: Hardback
4 Stars

Curse of the Spellmans is the second book in Lisa Lutz's Spellman series. This series follows the misadventures of Izzy Spellman, an overly suspicious private investigator with a dysfunctional family (most of whom are employed by the family's p.i. firm and love to spy on one another) and a long list of ex-boyfriends. In this installment of the series, Izzy notices that all the members of her family are behaving suspiciously so she begins to keep "Suspicious Behavior Reports" on them as well as her new next door neighbor and potential ex-boyfriend. Izzy practically wears herself out trying to spy on all these different people, and leaves little time and energy for the case that she is actually being paid to investigate - the vandalism of a widow's holiday yard displays which are exact replicas of the vandalisms that occurred when Izzy was a teenager and which she insists that she knows nothing about. Through the course of trying to solve all these mysteries, she gets arrested 2 times (or 4 times, but Izzy doesn't think arrests 2 and 3 should count), loses her rent-controlled apartment, and feels inadequate for never having been in the Olympics.

The book remains consistent with the writing style that Lutz developed in The Spellman Files, the first book in the series. It is fun and quirky, with plenty of footnotes and even an appendix containing several lists including a list of ex-boyfriends. I still found the footnotes to be a little distracting and annoying, but they did break things up a bit and added some additional interest. And I still love Izzy. She consistently makes bad choices, but they are so funny! I should add, however, that this book continues to see her grow and mature, a process that she began in the first book. I am also very excited about the development of Henry Stone's character. I can't wait to see if he and Izzy ever have a romantic relationship! The book ended with something of a shocker concerning Izzy's status with in the family business - I won't divulge it here, but I have to admit that it has me intrigued enough that I already checked the next book out from the library and plan to start it soon.