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One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) (Stephanie Plum Novels)
ISBN 0061009059 / 9780061009051 / 0-06-100905-9
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Stephanie Plum is so smart, so honest, and so funny that her narrative charm could drive a documentary on termites. But this tough gal from New Jersey, an unemployed discount lingerie buyer, has a much more interesting story to tell: She has to say that her Miata has been repossessed and that she's so poor at the moment that she just drank her last bottle of beer for breakfast. She has to say that her only chance out of her present rut is her repugnant cousin Vinnie and his bail-bond business. She has to say that she blackmailed Vinnie into giving her a bail-bond recovery job worth $10,000 (for a murder suspect), even though she doesn't own a gun and has never apprehended a person in her life. And she has to say that the guy she has to get, Joe Morelli, is the same creep who charmed away her teenage virginity behind the pastry case in the Trenton bakery where she worked after school.
If that hard-luck story doesn't sound compelling enough, Stephanie's several unsuccessful attempts at pulling in Joe make a downright hilarious and suspenseful tale of murder and deceit. Along the way, several more outlandish (but unrelentingly real) characters join the story, including Benito Ramirez, a champion boxer who seems to be following Stephanie Plum wherever she goes.
Janet Evanovich shares an authentic feel for the streets of Trenton in her debut mystery (she developed her talents in a string of romance novels before creating Ms. Plum), and her tough, frank, and funny first-person narrator offers a winning mix of vulgarity and sensitivity. Evanovich is certainly among the best of the new voices to emerge in the mystery field of the 1990s. --Patrick O'Kelley [via]