One for the Money

Janet Evanovich, Author Scribner Book Company $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-19639-8
First novels this funny and self-assured come along rarely; dialogue this astute and raunchy is equally unusual. The gutsy heroine introduced here is Stephanie Plum of Trenton, N.J., a recently laid-off lingerie buyer who has no job, no car and no furniture. She does have a hamster, a deranged grandmother, two caring parents and several pairs of biking shorts and sports bras. Finding work with her cousin Vinnie, she becomes a bond hunter and scrounges money enough to buy a gun, a Chevy Nova and some Mace. Her first assignment is to locate a cop accused of murder. Joe Morelli grew up in Stephanie's neighborhood. Possessed of legendary charm, he relieved Stephanie of her virginity when she was 16 (she later ran over him with a car). In her search, Stephanie catches her prey, loses him and grills a psychotic prizefighter, the employer of the man Morelli shot. She steals Morelli's car and then installs an alarm so he can't steal it back. Resourceful and tough, Stephanie has less difficulty finding her man than deciding what she wants to do with him once she's got him. While the link between the fighter and the cop isn't clear until too late in the plot, Evanovich's debut is a delightful romp and Stephanie flaunts a rough-edged appeal. Mystery Guild alternate; author tour; film rights optioned to Tri-Star. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
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