Book Reviews

Book Review: Four to Score by Janet Evanovich-Transvestite, Hooker, and Bounty Hunter Walk Into a Bar…

Warning: All subsequent reviews for this series may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series.

Finding an author I like usually means I am hooked and I rip through as many of that person’s novels as fast as I can. I only discovered Harry Turtledove around the turn of the millennium, and I’ve read just about everything he’s written over the course of the last six years. The latest author to hook me in is Janet Evanovich. If I had to categorize the Stephanie Plum series, which is what I’m currently reading, I’d say it’s a cross between “chick-lit” and a mystery with a healthy dose of comedy.

Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter, sort of. You see, once upon a time she had a job purchasing lingerie for a department store. The only problem was that store was in deep with the mob and when those connections were exposed, she was unemployed. Stephanie turned to her cousin, Vinnie, and what was supposed to be a job as a file clerk in his bail bond business turned into a bounty hunter instead.

The world Stephanie inhabits includes some very unusual characters, and Evanovich seems to build on these with each novel. Stephanie has a romantic entanglement with police officer Joe Morelli, with whom she shares a history. She’s also occasionally helped out tracking down fugitives by the mysterious Ranger, a Cuban-American with Special Forces training who’s “like the wind”. In previous books, Evanovich introduced Stephanie’s family including her quirky and eccentric Grandma Mazur. Also occasionally helping her out on her cases is former hooker turned file clerk and bounty hunter wannabe, Lula.

In Four to Score, Evanovich brings in a great new character with Sally. He’s the transvestite grandson of one of Stephanie’s neighbors who’s a genius about breaking codes and develops a real affinity for bounty hunting when he tags along. He’s also something of a local celebrity due to his rock band.

Four to Score begins with a bang, so to speak, as Vinnie hires Stephanie’s nemesis, Joyce Barnhart, in the same capacity as he tries to prevent his wife from trying to find out about certain indiscretions. The rivalry heats up between the two women as they go after the same fugitive, Maxine Nowicki. It seemed like a simple case as she’s wanted for skipping out on charges she stole her former boyfriend’s car. Like most of the cases so far, there’s much more here than meets the eye.

Soon Stephanie is on the trail, but there’s something more going on here. One of Maxine’s co-workers turns up with a finger sliced off, and Maxine’s mother is scalped in her own home. Stephanie is threatened, only the tension level is ratcheted up as her apartment is fire-bombed. Not wanting to move in with her parents and make them potential targets, she turns to Joe Morelli and moves in with him. It’s then that things really heat up, and I don’t just mean the summertime weather!

Four to Score is written as previous novels from Stephanie’s perspective. It’s nice to get into her head and really made me feel as if I were seeing things the same way she was. It’s a rather unique way to read a mystery and I’ve obviously been enjoying them greatly so far. The comedy here is good, but most of it comes at the expense of how Sally looks so after a while I was getting tired of that. When Stephanie was having her misadventures, however, it’s great, especially as she now becomes involved with Joe’s family due to their cohabitating status.

Along the way the mystery unravels nicely. What is Maxine involved in and why did a 7-11 clerk turn up dead? What’s the deal with her ex-boyfriend and why did he disappear so suddenly? Who is trying to kill Stephanie? Does Joe really have a secret, jealous girlfriend? Will she ever be able to get Joyce Barnhart off her back and get Maxine before her?

I thoroughly enjoyed Four to Score. The mystery was great and kept me guessing about most of it until the end, although I had an idea as to one aspect of it. What’s kept me more on the edge of my seat is the developing relationship between Stephanie and Joe. Evanovich has paced this very well, keeping me interested and at the same time feeling the same hesitation to get involved as Stephanie feels. The comedy is hysterical, between what’s going on and the character’s dialogue I laughed quite a few times.

This makes great reading when I’m sitting around during the night and don’t want material too deep. It’s very enjoyable and I can’t wait to start the fifth novel and see where she takes me from there. I’m enjoying Stephanie Plum and her comedic adventures very much. Four to Score is a strong book in the series, advancing the characters and their relationships nicely. I sure hope she doesn’t drop Sally from the canvas now that this mystery is over, but I could do with less of him/her than I saw in this novel.




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