Warning: All subsequent reviews for this series may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series.
When writing a series of novels based around the same character, and set in the same exact place, there are some themes that can get worn. To combat this, an author needs to add something fresh to the mix each time out. In the case of the series of novels centered around lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, author Janet Evanovich has managed to bring in some new wacky characters with each adventure the heroine has.
In Seven Up, Stephanie is pursuing neighborhood loony Eddie DeChooch, an older gentleman who got in trouble for trafficking cigarettes from Virginia and then failed to show up for his court date. DeChooch is no easy target despite his age, as Stephanie soon finds out. Professional bounty hunter and man of mystery, Ranger, offers to help Stephanie bring in DeChooch, at a price. Not that the price he’s demanding is one all that unpleasant. There are a lot worse things in the world than spending a night with this hot hunk of a man.
Returning characters from Hot Six are Mooner and Dougie, two somewhat displaced space cadets from Stephanie’s neighborhood. This was somewhat surprising since Evanovich has created some interesting and eccentric characters before which disappear off the canvas once the book ends. Dougie disappears and Mooner is worried until he disappears as well. Is their disappearance connected to what DeChooch was involved in?
To top it all off, Stephanie’s “perfect” sister, Valerie is back from California. She’s been talked about before in passing but never made an appearance until she returns to the fold, kids in tow after her husband takes off with the babysitter and leaves behind a pile of bills. One of her daughters thinks she’s a horse and acts accordingly.
If that’s not enough, in a moment of emotional upheaval, Stephanie tells her mother that she and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Joseph Morelli are getting married in August. Upon hearing the news, her mother can’t get her to the bridal shop and order a gown fast enough…
The problem by now with reading these books so close together rather than spread out across the years is that the repetition is getting to me. There’s a definite formula here where Stephanie is put on a case and there’s more to it than it initially seems. This turns the story into a mystery as she investigates the case all the while trying to bring in the fugitive. There are usually one or two peripheral cases Stephanie’s put on which usually end up being comic relief and break up the monotony of the main story.
What saves Seven Up from being too formalistic is the mystery at the heart of the book itself. It’s a pretty good one which kept me guessing all the way through as to how exactly it would pan out. Evanovich also resisted wrapping the story up with a “Scooby-Doo” ending where the bad guy tells the heroine the entire story before killing her, or rather before she’s rescued just prior to him being able to kill her.
There’s a good degree of unbelievability in Seven Up. Like other stories, when Stephanie needs information she conveniently knows someone in just the right place. She’s able to bring in dangerous fugitives and at the same time hates to take her gun out of the cookie jar, never mind load it. She extracts herself from dangerous situations that would probably result in the end of a life were it not for her luck.
Told in the first person like the other books in this series, Seven Up succeeds in putting me inside Stephanie’s head while everything is going on around her. I like the effect and it’s a style that I had never really read before, or if I had then I didn’t appreciate it enough to remember it. I am enjoying it in this series of books.
If you are looking for something that’s fun and easy to read without having to put a great deal into it, then Seven Up is for you. While enough of the background of the characters is recapped, I’d think starting from the first book in the series is really the way to go. I also don’t know that I’d recommend reading them as close together as I’ve been as some of the stories seem to bleed into one another after a while. I’ve been enjoying the books with the two teenage girls living in my house along with some other friends and we’re all having a lot of fun with them, as will you. Seven Up is a great continuation of the series.
Previous book in the series (link): Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
Next book in the series (link): Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich