Warning: All subsequent reviews for this series may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series.
There’s really something to be said when I can enjoy a series of books with both teenage girls currently living in my home, plus a few co-workers who are now passing the books around. It really creates a nice bonding situation all around, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with the series of novels by author Janet Evanovich centered around the character of Stephanie Plum. Not to mention that I also started a race to twelve with a fellow writer.
In the sixth novel in the series, aptly titled Hot Six, lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter Stephanie Plum finds herself at odds with her mentor, a mysterious dark, and handsome man by the name of Ranger. He’s been accused of murder and although Stephanie’s cousin Vinnie has bonded him out since he has done work for Vinnie in the past, it’s dicey as to whether he’ll stick around with all of his connections. Vinnie puts Stephanie on the case, but she refuses. Her loyalty to Ranger is too strong, but there’s also something more blooming there. Instead, Ranger ends up pursued by Stephanie’s nemesis, Joyce Barnhart.
However, that doesn’t mean that Ranger is out of the picture – far from it. He’s appearing at our gal’s apartment in a series of clandestine meetings and enlisting her help in trying to prove he’s not guilty of the murder of a mobster.
At the same time, Stephanie is trying to maintain her job by pursuing other people who have failed to appear in court. As with other novels, a couple of new characters appear in Mooner and Dougie (a.k.a. “The Dealer”) after Stephanie brings in Mooner for a court appearance. She’s also pursued by Habib and Mitchell, two apparent heavies for a local crook who seem to have transportation problems similar to Stephanie’s.
There’s plenty of sexual tension, too, as Stephanie’s relationship with a local vice cop, Joe Morelli, seems to be getting very serious. However, she’s being pulled in a variety of directions and wondering if settling down with this man and raising a family is really what she wants.
Evanovich does a good job with the suspense factor throughout Hot Six. The action seemed to be virtually non-stop as Stephanie moves through a series of somewhat unlikely scenarios that are still a lot of fun. Suspending disbelief is definitely required for the novels as Stephanie gets into some crazy and dangerous situations and believing that she can extract herself from them as easily as she does is sometimes hard. It’s also hard to believe that every time she needs to get information from some government agency or private enterprise that she’s got a connection there through her friends in “The Burg” which is the area of Trenton she’s lived in her entire life.
Hot Six is written well and I did enjoy the characters immensely, although I thought there were possibly too many of them to follow as well as I would have liked. Mooner and Dougie provided a lot of comic relief but it got tired after a while (although the Trekker in me appreciated Dougie’s attempt at a Trek convention). Habib and Mitchell were both dangerous and somewhat funny, although they seemed pretty one-dimensional. Stephanie acquires a dog, as well, and it’s nice to see her doing more than talking to her hamster when she comes home at night.
Stephanie’s eccentric Grandma Mazur is still around and living with her granddaughter, creating all sorts of havoc. This did bring in Stephanie’s mother in the story a bit more than it has in the past which was nice. I felt like in past books she had been pretty one-dimensional, wringing her hands over her daughter’s career choices and lack of a steady man in her life. There’s a little bit more brought in here about her and I just hope the same is true soon for Stephanie’s father.
I really hadn’t read many books which were told in the first person before I started on this series, and I definitely feel that I am liking this perspective quite a bit after six novels. I felt what Stephanie felt, knew what she knew, and saw things from her perspective. Except for the times when Stephanie hints that she’s figuring things out but doesn’t clue in the reader, it really puts me in her shoes as to what’s going on in her perceptions and her feelings.
Probably the biggest problem with Hot Six, however, is the way the mystery is handled. There is too much going on that it becomes hard to follow how things fit together, even at the end. Once everything seems settled, I still wasn’t sure I understood why it all happened. I had a pretty good idea as to what really happened with the murder early on, but the why’s behind it never seemed to be answered completely. It felt as if Hot Six needed to be wrapped up somehow and the answers given were the quickest and easiest way to do it.
I am looking forward to the next book as Evanovich has managed to create a triangle between Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger which will heat up even more (the first chapter of the next book is traditionally published at the end of this one to whet the appetite). While Hot Six was definitely not my favorite book in the series, it managed to keep my interest in the characters I’ve grown to really like and give me a halfway decent mystery besides.
Previous book in the series (link): High Five by Janet Evanovich
Next book in the series (link): Seven Up by Janet Evanovich