There was something cool last week as I walked around the campus of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center carrying this Janet Evanovich novel centered around bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. For anyone who doesn’t know, Dartmouth-Hitchcock is in the same locale as the author lives up here in New Hampshire. It just felt right having this in my hands, and I could see people smiling when I opened it up to read as I waited in the waiting room. Yup, I was in Evanovich’s home territory.
Which goes right along with Lean Mean Thirteen. It’s all familiar territory for the heroine – lingerie-buyer turned bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. There are all the comforts of who and what I’ve grown to expect from a Stephanie Plum novel. She’s going through cars and burning down buildings. Her quarry always seems to outwit her in some interesting way just as she’s about to apprehend them. The two men in her life tolerate each other from a distance.
A third man enters her life in Lean Mean Thirteen, or should I say, re-enters. Her ex-husband, Dickie Orr, seems to have aligned himself with a partnership that’s either very successful, very dangerous, or both. When Ranger asks Stephanie to plant a bug on Dickie so he can get the goods on the man, Stephanie complies and ends up attacking her Ex when she sees a picture of him and arch-rival Joyce Barnhart on his desk. The bug is successfully planted, but Dickie disappears soon afterward without a trace. The bloody mess in his house leaves many to believe he’s been murdered, and everyone is looking at Stephanie as the culprit. Her only alibi is the warm afterglow of sex from a night with Morelli, who actually wasn’t with her at the time they think Dickie might have been offed.
As usual, Stephanie’s broke, so in addition to trying to clear herself, she’s trying to earn a living. One of her FTA’s is a grave-robber and the idea of staking out cemeteries in late February is not all that appealing. The other is a taxidermist who uses road-kill to build bombs.
There are some hilarious moments in Lean Mean Thirteen. In a very creative way, Stephanie gets some satisfaction with Joyce after all these years. Lula can always be counted on to provide comic relief, even if it is very predictable by this point in the game, as can much of Stephanie’s family. Grandma Mazur is staking out a new honey. Missing are Stephanie’s “perfect” sister and her brood, but that could be a good thing.
I found myself getting a bit tired of the back and forth between Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger in Lean Mean Thirteen. The triangle has been great all along, but it’s starting to get a bit thin. I think Stephanie says something to Ranger at one point in the book that perfectly describes the attraction he has for her, and you would think that knowing that, it would make it easy for her to make a decision on who she really wants to be with. Instead, she’s still waffling. I could also understand her reticence at committing to Morelli as it seems at times he wants to control her. However, by this point in the game you would think he’s pretty much figured out that no matter what happens, Stephanie is never going to turn into Suzy-homemaker.
The writing is good, and I enjoyed the mystery. What happens to Dickie is really interesting and takes a good turn I didn’t see coming. What I thought was going to be predictable ended up surprising me, despite the fact that so many of the other points in Lean Mean Thirteen seem to be the same formula as other books.
Just like most of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, Lean Mean Thirteen makes for great summertime reading. It’s light and fun and doesn’t require a lot of concentration. It’s perfect for the beach or pool, or while sitting in a waiting room. I can pick it up and put it down with ease. The pace was good and drew me in nicely, although I thought it bogged down in a couple of spots as it got too descriptive on some things such as Ranger’s apartment (I’ve heard it before).
Still, I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you’re looking for great works of literature, go pick up some Faulkner or Jane Austen. Want brain-candy? Pick up Evanovich.
P.S. How long do hamsters live anyway? Mine never lasted as long as Stephanie’s….
Previous book in the series (link): Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich
Next book in the series (link): Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich