Evanovich novels at their prime held the promise of hilarious dialogue mixed with serious chases between Stephanie and the bail runs she was trailing. Although Evanovich offered many over-the-top scenes involving blown up cars and clumsy attempted captures, there was always a gritty and genuine danger present. That danger drove the plot forward and elevated what would otherwise be simplistic silliness to a new level of entertaining genius.
But with the last several Plum series novels, something seemed lost. Rather than caring about the characters, I felt they fell flat in each new book. They retained their initial charming qualities, but something was lacking. Once-funny bounty hunter antics just seemed staged and ridiculous.
Until Smokin' Seventeen. With Evanovich's latest bestseller, Stephanie Plum is back. The ongoing love triangle between Stephanie, police officer Joe Morelli, and private security systems owner Ranger is somehow fresh and new -- no matter how many times we've been there, done that. Grandma Mazur, Lula, and even bonds office manager Connie all seemed to have a newfound spunk in their step for this latest installment.
Evanovich once again brings a plot that will have readers biting their fingernails, waiting to see where the next body will end up -- and whose it will be. Stephanie and Lula fight their way through crime with the help of Cluck-in-a-Bucket fried chicken and -- of course -- lots and lots of donuts.
Smokin' Seventeen ends in typical old-school Evanovich fashion: a cliffhanger. But all is well, as the next book in the series, Explosive Eighteen, is set to release before the end of the year. Rather than feeling kind of blah about this one, I'll probably be pre-ordering so that it arrives as soon as is humanly possible. Perhaps Evanovich is back on top of her game, with two books releasing within six months of one another. USA Today called it a "double Plum year," in their rave review of Smokin' Seventeen.
|Heigl & Shepherd on set, via MovieInsider.com|