Tag Archives: Janet Evanovich

Review of ‘Top Secret Twenty-One’ by Janet Evanovich

Top Secret 21Thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline for the review copy of this book.

I could probably just refer you to my review of Sizzling Sixteen by the same author, because essentially all the books in this series are the same. Unfortunately, this means that all the books have the same flaws: repetitive plots and a lack of character progression. However, I did feel that this book had a slightly more cohesive and interesting storyline than the previous Evanovich book I read, with a nice side trip to New York and Atlantic City involving Russian terrorists on top of the usual mooching around looking for idiots in Trenton.

I really think that by the 21st book in this series, Stephanie Plum should have evolved a bit, but she is still bumbling around making the same mistakes, still unable to choose fully between Morelli and Ranger, the two men in her life. At one point Stephanie ponders why her life has been drifting for so many years. If Evanovich realises this problem, why has she done nothing to rectify it? I just wanted to shout at the book, ‘Maybe, if you thought about more than what the men look like and picked a man with slightly more conversational skills than ‘Babe’ or ‘You’re a cupcake’, you’d find someone with whom you had a deeper connection and you’d be able to grow up and move on with your life’.

This book could probably be condensed into a fairly interesting 50 page novella, if Evanovich cut out all the filler:

  1. I don’t need to know what everyone is wearing
  2. I don’t need details of everything the characters eat or to know every time they are hungry (which is basically all the time)
  3. I don’t need a detailed description of every turn they make on their car journey, or where they park, or what car everyone drives
  4. I don’t need a detailed description of every place they visit where they fail to find the fugitive.

I don’t often appreciate the humour in Evanovich’s books, most of the time it is too stupid and falls flat. However, there was a Despicable Me inspired section with chihuahuas referred to as minions which made me smile in this book.

There’s not much to say about this book. Fans of Evanovich will enjoy it as another standard addition to the series but it’s as lacking in substance as the other books in this series. I keep picking them up, hoping they will have improved, but they don’t and I won’t bother reading any more in this series.

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Review of ‘Sizzling Sixteen’ by Janet Evanovich

ImageI’ve read a couple of books in this series previously and not really thought that much of them, but I decided to read this (which I got very cheaply from a library discard sale) because I have received a copy of Evanovich’s 21st book to read via Bookbridgr and thought I should read this earlier book first.

Every time I pick up a book in this series I expect to find something enjoyable which I missed in the previous books I read, or with the progression of the series the quality of the books will have improved. I am always disappointed. These books are just really stupid and you have to take them with a huge pinch of salt in order to read them; if you try to apply any kind of logic to any of the characters then you don’t get anywhere.

I think the main issue with this book and the series in general is that they are just so repetitive. Evanovich’s heroine, Stephanie Plum, is a bounty hunter and frankly it’s not really that interesting a job. Basically all Stephanie does is drive around hoping to stumble upon the people she is looking for, frequently stopping to buy fast food and occasionally getting herself in a dangerous situation from which she needs to be rescued by a man. Frankly, in reality if anyone ate as much rubbish as she does, she’d be the size of a house and definitely wouldn’t have 2 hot men chasing after her.

The two hot men are another of the big issues with this series; the last book I read in this series was number 7, this is number 16 and the storyline and romantic relationships have not progressed at all. Stephanie is still on again off again with Morelli and seriously tempted by Ranger but not acting on it. How long can a grown women, particularly one this inept and silly, string along two seemingly desirable men? It’s ridiculous. I hope when I read book 21 that she will have finally made a choice between the two, or they both will have realised that she is a loser and moved on.

The storyline is totally inconsequential and almost exactly the same as the other books I’ve read in this series. I guess Evanovich knows how to cash in on what for some people is obviously a winning formula.

Review of ‘Bad Monkey’ by Carl Hiaasen

Bad Monkey coverThanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown for the ARC of this book.

I’ve enjoyed reading Carl Hiaasen in the past, his writing is fast-paced, irreverent and very easy to read.

‘Bad Monkey’ follows Andrew Yancy a policeman who, after assaulting his girlfriend’s husband, is demoted to restaurant inspector. When a severed arm turns up on a fishing boat he resolves to solve the case in order to try to get reinstated as a policeman.

As with Hiaasen’s other writing this is a humourous lightweight crime caper.  It’s easy to read and gets into the story quickly. I enjoyed the first third of the book but then I felt the plot started to meander a bit and lost its original fast pace. I got a bit bored in the middle of the book and I could have put it down and forgotten all about it without wondering what happened to any of the characters. However, the pace picks up again in the final third of the book, with the arrival of a hurricane in the Bahamas.

The book is set mostly in Florida with occasional jaunts down to the Bahamas. I found the Bahamian vernacular really hard to read. For example, Hiaasen uses ‘dot’ rather than ‘that’ and I spent the first few minutes of each conversation in the Bahamas trying to figure out who Dot was. I don’t think it’s necessary to write the dialogue in this way.

The sections in the Bahamas are filled with really bad cliches; including a voodoo witch and the eponymous ‘bad monkey’. I didn’t think these characters were really necessary or added anything to the plot. Using these ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ inspired ideas seemed a bit lazy.

The crime story is also not very original or exciting. The twist about what really happened to the arm which Yancy is investigating, is very obvious and predictable, (spoiler: why else would there be so much emphasis on the poncho?); so I was glad that the reveal came after two thirds of the book and it wasn’t saved to be the big final plot twist.

The most interesting and amusing plot line is actually unrelated to the central crime plot. It revolves around Yancy’s attempts to scupper the sale and completion of a monstrous house on the plot next door to his own house.

I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a light, funny crime caper. I think it would particularly appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.