St Martin’s Press, $19.95, ISBN 0-312-30632-6
Comedy Mystery, 2002
There are, generally speaking, two types of Stephanie Plum fans. There are readers like me who are drawn to a clumsy novice bounty hunter who earnestly tries to solve mysteries. Then there are readers who heard that the books are funny and end up reading them only for the insane antics of Stiff-and-Unfunny Dumb and the Even Dumber Brigade. These are the same readers that wage insane wars on bulletin boards whether Ranger or Joe is sexier. Well, I don’t think I like the second type of fans very much. Yeah, I’m unfair, probably, but when the franchise gets dumbed down, the crime gets pushed aside for insane wacko antics, and Stephanie’s character development is retarded for the sake of “Oh no, her gun is still unloaded!” jokes, the author is catering to these fans and I don’t like that at all.
I don’t like it because the author is now writing stories that only they can like. And to these fans, enjoy Janet Evanovich’s latest, Visions of
Dollar Bills Sugar Plums. A 170-paged novella at full-length hardcover price, insultingly called “a Christmas treat from the author to you”. Okay, chorus, sing along with me: “Thank God for libraries and cheap sales!”
If these authors want money that bad, they just have to ask or put up those Paypal boxes on their websites. Why take your fans’ money and stick a pitchfork up their rectums at the same time?
Okay, the story.
Oh boy. The story.
Where shall I start? I cannot find the story at all. Let me try. Ahem.
Stephanie Dumb wakes up one day to see a handsome hunk named Diesel in her house. Diesel is kind of a superhero – oh, forget it. Her gun is still unloaded even if by now she has pissed off half the gangsters in Trenton. Eight pages pass and she still hasn’t called the cops or run out of the house.
Since writing intricate mysteries is too much a bother now that the author has to fend off angry hoards of fans who want to see Stephanie naked with either Joe or Ranger or Rex, again we have yet another old coot FTA. It’s an old toymaker named Sandy Claws.
Grandma Mazur still wants to have sex. Old people with libido are so funny. Like Ms Evanovich, we are all forever young and beautiful and we will forever remain fecund and erect, depending on our sexes. The Italian gangsters or Third World terrorists have now given way to crazy horny old people, midgets, and other targets, only with the bonus of additional dumbing down of all the jokes so that if I miss it the first time, Grandma Mazur will come up and flash me so that I can’t miss it the second time around.
Then we have the usual family gathering at the Dumb house. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it’s the same old tired schtick – horny old women, doughy pale men getting pretty Barbies pregnant, midgets, old people behaving badly, and Stephanie’s actually getting more and more brain-damaged with each book. That woman has no survival skill left and if there is a landmine in the area, watch her stumble into it so that we can all laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. Gag.
Reading this book reminds me of the struggling last legs of Ally McBeal: the author has either run out of steam or can’t be bothered anymore, and everything that comes out from her seems to be fancy gimmicks and nothing more.
The only person having a good time here is the author. Visions of Dollar Bills is her treat to herself, and all of you who paid good money for it, tough.