“One for the Money” is the first book in a series by Janet Evanovich. It features the recently unemployed New Jersey native Stephanie Plum, who snags a job as a bounty hunter after being fired from her job as a lingerie-seller at a retail store. Unfortunately, her first assignment with her new job is to track down and apprehend ex-cop Joe Morelli, with whom she has a (shocker) romantic past and more than a few hard feelings. On the road to exacting her revenge on Morelli, Plum’s escapades get her roped up with the murders of several women and a scary heavyweight boxer behind it all. Plum stumbles through the plot, causing mayhem right and left and letting her inexperience guide her in and out of trouble in the rough-and-tumble Jersey suburb.
The novel itself is well-written, laced with plenty of wit and humor, but the plot does wear a bit thin in places and, in some spots, turns downright predictable. The continuous (borderline monotonous) cat-and-mouse chase between Plum and Morelli somehow always ends the same way—with Morelli skipping off into the sunset and Plum scrambling to pick up the pieces.
The characters in general were colorful and diverse, with no shortage of sleaze. A lot of the time, however, they acted as no more than thinly-veiled devices to maneuver the plot around, appearing and disappearing as was convenient and without any real purpose.
The relationship between Plum and Morelli was believable but dizzying, with no significant change by the end of the novel. There is, of course, the rest of the series for more development to happen, but I was disappointed by the lack of progress made in the first book.
If I had to choose a major problem with this book, it would be the obvious fact that Stephanie Plum doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes … ever. This is something that will become glaringly obvious if you choose to venture further into the series. Again and again, Plum falls into the same traps, disregards the same signs and carelessly forgets to do one thing or another. This is forgivable only so many times. The heroine herself is spunky enough to avoid any outright dislike, but after a while, you start to question her continuous failure to avoid the easily avoidable. There’s also Plum’s blatant inexperience and complete lack of training for law enforcement or bounty hunting. I’ll give her points for determination, but her courage borders on stupidity, and her blatant disregard for common sense doesn’t quite make it to endearing, instead stopping right at frustrating.
The age of “One for the Money” — it was published in 1994 — definitely shows itself where the fashion is concerned (i.e. spandex shorts, big hoop earrings, etc.), but the humor remains fresh and the action enticing enough not to get hung up on that. The series is still going too, with book 22 scheduled to be released this November.
“One for the Money” isn’t a bad book by any means — it has a solid mystery and loads of action. However, be prepared for some ridiculousness on Stephanie Plum’s part, and don’t go into the novel itself with anything other than a mindset for some not-so-serious reading.