Confession time: I’m not a fan of chick lit. I’ve tried the genre several times and each time I drop the book after about twenty-five pages and at least two tablets of Advil. I know chick lit is huge and makes tons of money and strides over the bestseller lists like a colossus, but when it comes to your friendly neighborhood bookpusher, it’s just simply Not My Thing.
It’s like this: I find the show Desperate Housewives completely unwatchable because of the unbearable sing-song Mary Alice narration that’s in every episode. It’s stilted and overly cutesy and drives me up the wall. Most chick lit I’ve read reminds me of that – breezy, unrealistic, as empty of nutrition as a Rice Krispy Treat. The exceptions to this rule are Jennifer Crusie, who imbues her chick lit with excellent characters and plot, and Janet Evanovich.
One for the Money is the first in a series of mystery novels starring wisecracking Jersey girl and accidental bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, currently in her twelfth book and counting. In OFTM, Plum becomes a bounty hunter because that’s the only job open to her – that, and her sleazeball cousin owns a bail bonds company. With the help of a hansome and mysterious rogue cop and an equally handome and even more mysterious professional bounty hunter, she unravels a drug ring involving a boxing champion and a cast of Jersey mooks that would feel right at home in your average “Sopranos” episode. Evanovich strings humor that’s just this side of slapstick into her mystery and does an effective job of balancing the two and making a readable and entertaining book.
(How this series hasn’t been made into a feature film is beyond me. All you need is to get Marisa Tomei to gain twenty-five pounds, Bridget Jones’s Diary style, and you’ve got box office gold.)