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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Plum Spooky (A Between-the-Numbers Novel) by Janet Evanovich

In the past I've said that you shouldn't bother with the "Between the numbers" books in this series, as they are just silly. I refuse to pay full price for the Between books, so I've waited to read this one until I could find it used for a couple of dollars. I finally did, and discovered that this book was no sillier than Fearless Fourteen. And the plot in Plum Spooky was better than the plot in Fearless Fourteen, too. Which means the Between books are no longer worse than the Numbered books. Sadly, I think that's mostly because of the Numbered books going downhill.

My favorite books in this series were in the 7 to 10 range, I think. We learned more about Ranger, and Stephanie appeared to be figuring a few things out. In recent books the characters have just stood still, with no growth forward at all.

But, enough about the series, I should spend some time reviewing Plum Spooky.

It seems that Ms. Evanovich has decided to start making the Between books more relevant to the series. In the past you could skip the Between books and not be lost when the next Numbered book begins. With this book, she's given closure to something from the numbered books that, if she doesn't give a really good explanation in the next book, will leave you lost as to what happened since Fearless Fourteen.

But, in order to understand Plum Spooky, you'll need to have read at least a few other Between books. Kind of a catch-22 there, if you've just been ignoring the Between books as silly holiday books that aren't really part of the series.

As for specific things I've heard from other reviewers: I've heard lots of complaints about Carl the Monkey, but he honestly didn't annoy me that much. Lula was a little more annoying than usual. And we actually get full sentences from Tank in this book. Others have been annoyed by the view of Tank we finally get, but I'm okay with the view we finally get of him. He's Ranger's second in command, so of course he's got to have some smarts. Right?

I learned a few things about New Jersey (there is a large wilderness area in NJ, who knew?), and I had a few laughs. The bit with the Easter Bunny and Sasquatch really could have been left out, though without them maybe the Fire Farter wouldn't have made as much sense. I guess we needed to understand that other mythological creatures have found refuge in this kind of no man's land that exists in New Jersey, of all places.

Diesel is back, of course. I'm not terribly sure how I feel about him. With him around it means Stephanie has a third hunk in her life, and the second man that she is constantly turning down for sex even though the idea is pretty appealing. It seems a bit much.

And I think that we have further evidence to point to Ranger being an Unmentionable. He gets a headache when Diesel is in town. And he assures Stephanie that Wulf won't mess with any of his men. And he knows that Diesel and Wulf are cousins. And he knows what nationality they are. It's kind of hard to explain all of that without having him be an Unmentionable as well. Plus there is the thing where Diesel can open doors and start cars with his finger, and there has always been the question of how Ranger gets past Stephanie's chain lock thing without taking it down. (Select the spoiler text to view it.)

I think I'm going to have to move this series down to an 8 of 10. The first ten or so books are still easily a 9 of 10, and I won't go so far as calling the recent books bad, they just aren't as good as the first ten books. Plum Spooky gets a 7 of 10, though I came close to giving it a 6 of 10.

I will be buying Finger Lickin' Fifteen, in large part because of a conversation in Fourteen that made it sound like Ranger might want to rethink keeping Stephanie at arm's length. From the excerpt and blurb on the author's site for Fifteen, it looks like Stephanie is off again with Joe, and that she'll be spending a lot of time with Ranger. I do think though, that if Fifteen is disappointing that it will be the last book in this series that I'm willing to spend the money on for a new book. I'll continue to read them, but it will be when the used books come down to a couple of dollars.

Book Rating: 7 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

One For the Money (1994)
Two For the Dough (1996)
Three to Get Deadly (1997)
Four to Score (1998)
High Five (1999)
Hot Six (2000)
Seven Up (2001)
Hard Eight (2002)
Visions of Sugar Plums (2003) (don't bother)
To the Nines (2003)
Ten Big Ones (2004)
Eleven on Top (2005)
Twelve Sharp (2006)
Plum Lovin' (2007) (don't bother)
Lean Mean Thirteen (2007)
Plum Lucky (January 2008) (don't bother)
Fearless Fourteen (June 2008)
Plum Spooky (January 2009)
Finger Lickin' Fifteen (June 23, 2009)

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