I debated long and hard about whether or not I was going to review Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich for the blog. Until now I have stuck to literary fiction and non fiction. And as much as I like a challenging read, there are times when some lighter fare is called for. I won’t lie to you, I love Janet Evanovich, or more precisely Stephanie Plum, the character of many of her novels. She’s someone I can relate to with her aversion to domesticity and marriage. So here goes, my first review of something a little more commercial.
You already know that I love Stephanie Plum and like many of her fans it goes without saying that I will always read her latest adventure. That being said, I was a little disappointed in Notorious Nineteen. The antics Stephanie gets up to as she tries to apprehend those who have skipped out on their bail were clever and entertaining as always, but there was much about the portrayal of her private life that troubled me. For the first time, I felt that her relationship with Ranger was a little creepy and predatory. He seems to cross a line even though in this novel Stephanie is firmly with Morelli (oh yes).
The second issue I had with Notorious Nineteen is something that has bothered me with all of her novels: guns. I am a Canadian and we are not a gun toting people so gun culture is a bit of foreign concept for me. I know that in the United States carrying a gun is much more acceptable. However, given catastrophes like the recent school shooting in Newtown I would be interested to see a writer such as Evanovich take a sterner stance on gun control. It is true that Stephanie does not like to carry a gun, but the conversations about guns in her novels seems so casual. It is frightening.
Overall, I found Notorious Nineteen to be one of the weaker Stephanie Plum novels. It was still enjoyable, but not as solid as some of the others. In fact, there were times while I was reading when I thought that this may even be the last Stephanie Plum novel, though there is no solid evidence for that.
Who would like this book? If you are looking for a light, funny crime based novel Janet Evanovich is your woman. The characters that populate the Stephanie Plum novels are great. They tend towards the quirky and may not be too realistic, but they are entertaining. In a similar vein to the Stephanie Plum novels are the Spellman novels by Lisa Lutz. Lutz’s novels lack the sexual tension that permeates the Stephanie Plum novels, but are still a good read.