Evanovich, J. (2001). One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel. New York: HarperTorch. ISBN: 0061009059
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich begins with One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel. Stephanie Plum is a Jersey Girl down on her luck; she is out of a job and then her Miata is repossessed. Pretty soon, she may have to move back in with her parents and wacky Grandma Mazur. When push comes to shove, Stephanie blackmails her slimy cousin and bail bondsman Vinne Plum into giving her a job as a Bond Enforcement Agent or B.E.A. or bounty hunter. As a bounty hunter, Stephanie must apprehend people who have used Vinnie’s services but have skipped bail. She becomes acquainted and reacquainted with a comical cast of characters. Stephanie very first case happens to be bringing in vice cop Joseph “Joe” Morelli. Stephanie’s previous sexual encounters with Morelli, a boxer with a nasty temper, bad “car-ma,” and training with expert bounty hunter Carlos Mañoso a.k.a. Ranger add to the misadventures of Stephanie’s induction into the life of a bounty hunter.
One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel focuses first on the crime of bail skipping. The victim, Vinnie Plum, loses money when someone fails to appear (FTA). Stephanie must find Morelli and make him appear in court. Since Stephanie operates as a rookie bounty hunter, solving the mystery is really not part of her job description. In this sense, Stephanie is an amateur detective. She does encounter murder along the way and takes solving that crime into her own hands. Stephanie’s curious nature and tenacity as well as the circumstances of F.T.A. leads her to solving the crime in this book and subsequent books in the series. With her smart mouth and comical reactions to situations at hand, Stephanie is a sympathetic character like many amateur detectives. Yet, as a bounty hunter, there are some private investigative and police procedural elements (Saricks 153). In the end, I still find Stephanie Plum to be an amateur – especially in this first novel.
I knew I wanted to read a Stephanie Plum book for this assignment because I find that Janet Evanovich brings in new readers to the Mystery Genre. After evaluating the Stephanie Plum series, I decided on One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel because it was the start of the series. While Evanovich excels in regurgitating facts and reintroducing characters in her other Stephanie Plum novels, I decided it would be easiest for patrons to start with the beginning and follow Stephanie’s career. Additionally, locating a copy of One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel would be simpler than finding Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum installment.
I found the book to be an easy read and I was automatically rooting for Stephanie. While I did not feel as though she could save the day, I crossed my fingers she would be able to save her own neck. I found some parts of the book to be rather vulgar (i.e. foul language, sexual situations and innuendo, and violence.) Yet, I believed the characters would not be so convincing if they did not cuss. Ultimately, I thought the book was hilarious and I found myself ready to put my hands on the next book.
The cast of characters, if nothing else, are unforgettable. Evanovich and narrator Stephanie describe them well with so few words. Immediately, I imagined Grandma Mazur being played by Estelle Getty. I look forward to seeing if Stephanie ever makes a decision between Morelli or fellow bounty hunter – Ranger. I enjoyed the interaction between Stephanie and Lula, too.
I definitely recommend the Stephanie Plum novels to women. One for the money: the First Stephanie Plum novel is wisecracking and romantic simultaneously. Stephanie’s wisecracks, along with her sweet tooth and numerous other human weaknesses make Stephanie accessible to the reader. She is a normal person placed in some rather outrageous circumstances. Evanovich previously wrote romantic fiction and elements from this genre appear between Stephanie and Morelli.
Four out of Five Pearls!
Saricks, J. G. (2001). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. ALA Readers’ Advisory Series. Chicago: American Library Association.