by Janet Evanovich, contemporary (2001)
Pan, £5.99, ISBN 0-330-37124-X
Hot Six is the newest adventure of intrepid, neurotic, and only slightly capable bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. This time around, her fellow bounty hunter Ranger is missing, and Stephanie contemplates a job hawking fries at the local McDonald's after getting tailed by two sociopathic maniacs and almost getting killed by a wife-murdering woman-hating nutcase. The last straw is when Grandma Mazur moves in and starts stocking up on condoms (hello?). Or maybe it's when Steph's mom experiences menopause.
Yes, Stephanie Plum's world is always a frantic world of bad hair days, crazy lunatics on the lam, and oh, who to choose, who to choose? Ranger or Morelli?
What can I say? Hot Six is as usual hysterically funny. A plus is that this time the plot is tight and Stephanie Plum actually cuts down on doing stupid things. She even gets a dog, Bob, which like the Buick and Grandma Mazur, is lifted right out of Ms Evanovich's older categories (the indiscriminate eater Bob comes from The Rocky Road To Romance, to be specific).
I do wince at the really bad stereotype of the doofus psychotic Muslim Pakistani baddie, and I have no idea how to explain the plot. But the laughters keep coming, and at the end of the day, isn't Steph just adorable? She's neurotic and a klutzy woman who would probably set her own apartment on fire on a bad hair day, but that's her charm. And Lula, Grandma Mazur, and the Hunky Twosome of Morelli and Ranger - ain't they all a wonderful gang?
But a very nice plus in Hot Six are the glimpses of emotional depths underneath the one-note caricatures that are Steph's family. Steph's asking her mother whether the woman has ever eaten dessert before dinner is a unexpected embryonic daughter-mother moment. I also love the way Steph's father acts befuddled when she actually asks his opinion on things - there's more to the Plums than a more neurotic and over-the-top My Cousin Vinnie version of Martha Stewart. There is also hint of loneliness in Grandma Mazur's determined good humor when she announces that she'd rather be at the receiving end of a bullet than to grow old and be a vegetable. The Stephanie Plum series can't continue without some character growth, and these brief glimpses tantalize me to continue reading.
Life in Ms Evanovich's Trenton is always a hoot, and that's why Hot Six is always perfect for a lift-me-up-and-let-me-die-laughing hour of fun and sun.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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