Warning: All subsequent reviews for this series may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series.
It’s a funny thing when I latch onto an author I like. I can’t seem to get enough of their work fast enough, and though it took me a while to embrace Janet Evanovich after having her recommended to me for years, now that I’ve begun reading her Stephanie Plum series of novels, I am totally and completely hooked and have dragged my daughter and a friend into her world with me.
Three to Get Deadly picks up several months after the events in Two for the Dough. Our heroine, Stephanie Plum, is still struggling to gain her footing as a bounty hunter, having signed on to work with her cousin, Vinnie, at his bail bonding business following her being laid off from her career purchasing lingerie at a local department store. She’s also struggling to find her place in the life of Joe Morelli, a local cop with whom she shares a history. The two have had several close encounters in the past.
In Three to Get Deadly, Stephanie is hot on the trail of a local icon, Mo Bedemier. He’s a kindly man who runs a local candy store frequented by kids throughout the generations. Now he’s jumped bail after being busted for carrying concealed during a traffic stop. As she investigates the situation further, Stephanie learns there is much more to the man than meets the eye. At the same time, she is fighting the perceptions of her neighborhood and friends as they all staunchly defend the man.
Meanwhile, in what seems like unrelated incidents, drug dealers in the streets have gone into hiding as one by one their minions are turning up dead. Is it somehow tied to Mo?
Evanovich has brought back characters from past novels who I’ve grown to like. Stephanie is helped out by the mysterious Ranger, a bounty hunter extraordinaire who has taken her under his wing in more ways than one. Lula, the prostitute turned file clerk heads out on pick-ups and stake-outs with Stephanie and provides more comedy in situations that already seem close to their limit. Grandma Mazur and Stephanie’s parents live nearby and Stephanie returns to the fold regularly for nourishment. She is also still carrying on conversations with her hamster, Rex.
Evanovich moves the characters along further throughout the novel. I learned a bit more about Ranger and he comes more into Stephanie’s world in Three to Get Deadly as he has dinner with Stephanie’s family and begins “training” Stephanie. Her relationship with Joe Morelli seems a bit stalled, although she’s denying her attraction to him less and less.
Probably the most development, however, comes in the character of Lula. In One for the Money, Lula was a prostitute. In Two for the Dough, she moved on to working as a file clerk in Vinnie’s business. In Three to Get Deadly, she’s moved all the way up to frequently working with Stephanie and really coming into her own.
Told in the first person by Stephanie, Three to Get Deadly isn’t heavy reading, which is nice for someone working nights. I didn’t think I would like a first-person story, but it really made me feel after a while like I was Stephanie; it was easy to feel like I was in her place seeing what she sees and experience what she experiences. The downside to this is that I couldn’t get into the heads of the other characters. However, that works well as when Stephanie doesn’t have a clue what’s going on with Morelli, neither did I.
The pacing is nice as the mystery unravels, and the book really drew me in well with the story. There are many situations that come up which required me to suspend my disbelief as they are really implausible, but all of the outlandishness really adds to the comedic value of the story and it’s overall a very enjoyable read. While there were some violent scenes in this book, I didn’t feel like it was as grisly as in Two for the Dough . Most of the violence happens as the body count piles up, with the exception of the threat to Stephanie and her hamster at one point. Still, it didn’t unnerve me the way some of the scenes did in the previous book.
I would say that Three to Get Deadly could stand on its own and be read without having read the first two books in the series. Evanovich gives enough of the backstory to the characters that I believe a new reader could pick up here and start reading. The mystery Stephanie needs to solve definitely stands on its own in the book without having to know anything from previous novels. Personally, though, I would recommend starting with the first book and going through the series as I am doing. (My only delay now is waiting for the fourth book to arrive at Borders.) I really recommend the books as being an easy and very fun read. I am enjoying them thoroughly.
Previous book in the series (link): Two for the Dough
Next book in the series (link): Four to Score