Seven Up
Janet Evanovich
373 pages
published in 2001

If you look around this booklog, you'll see that quite a bit of my reading was suggested by Sandra, and yes, this is another book she recommended. Despite this however, our reading tastes only overlap in part. For example, I read far more science fiction and fantasy books then she does --in fact, she doesn't even like most fantasy. She on the other hand reads far more murders then I do. My tastes in crime/detective fiction are quite old fashioned. I like the classic cozy murder mystery and can't stand modern psychological thriller writers like e.g. either of the Kellermans. As for serial killers, they just bore me. I don't like those endles series of hardboiled female detectives, usually written by hardboiled female authors either, especialy when they have cutesy titles.

Which is exactly the case here. Cutesy title: check. Hardboiled female author: check. Hardboiled female detective as main character: check. Part of a series: check. So why would I ever read it?

Because Sandra kept laughing out loud while reading this. Seven Up is hilarious in a nicely vulgar way. Set in Trenton, New Jersey, all the characters look like they stepped off the set of The Sopranos. Not that they're mafia; they're the people who went to school with the mafia, hardworking working class families, cops and small time hoods. The Burg may have a lot of criminals living there, they're always careful to do their crimes elsewhere --for the most part.

Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter for her cousin, the bail bondsman. When she gets an assignment to bring back Eddie DeChooch, chargd with smugglinh cigarettes, she didn't figure it would be difficult. After all, he's about as old as her grandmother --in fact, he's dating her grandmother. Granted, he has tried to kill people in the past, but the last time he did, he emptied a clip in a washin boards: his eyes don't work too good anymore...

Even so, with all his handicaps he still manages to give Stephanie the slip and when she goes and look for him, she stumbles over a corpse Eddie did manage to kill... Things go downhill from there and her family, well her mother really are not pleased with how she behaves: why couldn't she be more like her perfect sister, Valerie, happily married with children in California.

This is not a book you read for the plot, which is just another variation on the old "hardboiled detective struggles against the od to solve the crime, in spite of her shortcomings". You read for the humour, especially for the dialogue, a sample of which I've quoted below.

'I hear that's the modern way of doing things,' Grandma said. 'I don't see nothing wrong with it myself. If I wanted to shack up with a man I'd just go ahead and do it. What's a silly piece of paper means anyways? In fact, I would have shacked up with Eddie DeChooch, but his penis don't work.'

'Jesus Christ,' my father said.

'Not that I'm only interested in a man for his penis,' Grandma added. 'It's just that Eddie and me only had a physical attraction. When it came to talking we didn't have too much to say.'

My mother was making motions like she was stabbing herself in her chest. 'Just kill me,' she said. 'It would be easier.'

'It's the change,' Grandma whispered to Joe and me.

'It's not the change,' my mother shrieked. 'It's you! You make me crazy!' She pointer her finger at my father. 'And you make me crazy! And you, too,' she said, glaring at me. 'You all make me crazy. Just once I'd like to have a dinner without talk about private parts, and aliens, and shooting. And I want grandchildren at this table. I want them here next year, and I want them here legally. You think I'm going to last forever? Pretty soon I'll be dead and then you'll be sorry.'

Everyone sat slack-jawed and paralyzed. No one said anything for a full sixty seconds.

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Webpage created 08-01-2003, last updated 12-01-2003
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