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Book CoverLiviania’s review of Plum Spooky (Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich
Contemporary mystery released by St. Martin’s 6 Jan 09

The Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum books have always been fun but less satisfying that those in the actual series.  For one thing, none of the previous three cleared 200 pages.  There’s only so much you can put into such a short novel, making each of them seem rather spare.  Plum Spooky, on the other hand, is over 300 pages and much more similar to one of the main novels.  That is, aside from Diesel.

The BtN books include a supernatural element not present in the rest of the canon.  In them, super bounty hunter Diesel teams up with Stephanie to get their skips.  Stephanie is on the trail of Martin Munch, short, geeky, and nonthreatening.  Diesel is after his partner Wulf, who kills people by twisting their head around.  Meanwhile, Stephanie has other skips to catch and a monkey to take care of.  I do like that unexpected characters, like Carl the Monkey, reoccur in this series.

On the romance side, Plum Spooky ranks pretty weak.  Morelli is out of the way taking care of a wayward brother.  Ranger shows up in a professional capacity only.  Stephanie is attracted to Diesel, but the two have never done anything together and probably never will since it wouldn’t gel well with the main series. Side-couple Lulu and Tank are experiencing relationship troubles as their wedding approaches.  They might end up having as much trouble making it to the altar as Stephanie.

Bounty hunter antics are in full swing.  Bad things happen to Stephanie’s cars, as is usual.  Vegetables get thrown.  Lulu and Tank fail to be inconspicuous.  Carl proves to be more intelligent than your average monkey.  Wulf really is creepy.  While less dangerous, Martin is often equally creepy since he’s pretty eager to get it on with unwilling women.  Janet Evanovich does wrap the case up but leaves things open for the next BtN novel.  There was a large gap between Visions of Sugar Plums and Plum Lovin’ but it now seems like there will be one between every one of the numbered novels.

If that’s the case, I’m glad for the increased page count.  It allowed Evanovich to expand upon the main case and devote attention to each skip.  Plum Spooky felt more like it belonged with the series than the previous three BtN novels.  (Really, if you upped the romance and deleted the mentions of Unmentionables it would be a main novel.)

Most of the reason I love the Plum series is the odd people Stephanie manages to become involved with and the over-the-top situations.  Plum Spooky delivers very well on both of those counts.  Those more interested in the Morelli-Stephanie-Ranger love triangle would probably be better of skipping it.  Plum Spooky is a lightweight novel, but it made me laugh and it’s fun to visit the characters in a new adventure without having to wait a full year for the main novel.

liviania.jpgGrade: B-

Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey. According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke.

He’s chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he’s chosen the Barrens as his new playground. Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He’s now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn’t made it out of the boys’ department at Macy’s. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn’t met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree. Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court.

Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel. Diesel pops in and out of Plum’s life like birthday cake – delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He’s an über bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He’s after Grimoire, and now he’s also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn’t mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs. Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys.
Read an excerpt here.