Hard Eight
by Janet Evanovich, contemporary (2002)
Headline, 12.99, ISBN 0-7472-6962-9


If you read the Stephanie Plum books because you "Evanovich" man Stephanie Plum will end up with and nothing more, you are up there with the stupid, overzealous Spuffy/Cordangel 'Shippers that have ruined my favorite TV shows. Yes, this is a rant, and I'm blaming all of you for the death of my favorite non-romance genre shows and books.

All you vocal 'Shippers tell Mutant Enemy that apparently all we Buffy fans care about is seeing Spike naked, damn the plot. We just want to see Cordy and Angel fall in love, damn the plots and storylines, we want to see Mulder and Scully married, damn the mytharc, we want to see Anita Blake end up with a David Bowie wannabe freak, damn the story, and yes, we Stephanie Plum fans, apparently, care only about who Stephanie will end up with. We don't care about anything but stupid hee-hee cute stuff.

That's why Marti Noxon thinks that all she has to do is to get James Marsters naked on TV. That's why Laurell K Hamilton stops trying to be an author and starts writing laborious non-stop sex scenes involving her characters. And that's why Janet Evanovich "Plum"mets to all time low when it comes to creative bankruptcy in Hard Eight.

In fact, as a protest, I am not going to talk any more about this book. Oh, if you insist. Ready? A woman and her daughter are missing, and Stephanie Plum is searching for them. Gangsters are involved. She still doesn't have a gun. She knows the bad guys have weapons, and she still leaves her gun at home. Ranger shows up, Morelli shows up, reduced to being mere glorified extras. Character development? Eight books and counting and Stephanie Plum still hasn't learned a clue. There's only so many books you can carry on "I'm lucky and I'm a disaster zone, watch me blunder so that you can laugh with me and my happy dotty eccentric Trentonites!" inanity. The mystery is dull, the humor is dull, and while One For The Money to Three To Get Deadly are snappy, amazing books, Hard Eight is Ms Evanovich laying square hard-boiled eggs and passing them off as bones to rabid Rangerites or Morellians who won't care about the story or plot, all they want is a love scene.

I hate you all. You Zealot Shippers make St Martin's and Ms Evanovich churn out fanboy and fangirl 'Shipper baits. Cute moments borned from stupidity and an inability to learn are no substitutes for substantial mystery and punchy writing. Stephanie Plum driving around looking for accidents to befall her is not funny. This is not the Stephanie Plum I know, this is a... a... thing, a fugly thing.

"Evanovich" will be nice? Stephanie Plum to give up bounty hunting and move to Hollywood. It's so obvious she's no longer an earnest novice but now a freaking braindead dumb bimbo loose in Trenton, so let her get a job as a receptionist in a hotel run by a Helen Mirren-type dominatrix. Put in lots of sex-mad actors and directors, skanky actresses, high priced socialites, Paris Hilton and her ghoul sister, tons of coke, gak, LSD, and too many whacky, scandalous and obscene antics and we'll call it Crackhouse Hotel. How's that for a new series?

Or maybe a transplant to Passions? I'd love to see a Timmy/Stephanie Plum love thing, or is that too obscene? Imagine the possibilities: Ranger and Miguel coming out of the closet together and drive Reese jealous! (After all, we all know Reese and Miguel are actually secret boyfriends.) Tabitha and Grandma Mazur! Sheridan and Connie sharing beauty tips! And of course, Zombie Charity can do her best to seduce Joe Morelli, who looks uncannily like that freaking ugly Galen "Simian Cavemen" Gering.

Hmm. Naked Reese. Naked Briantonio. Put in a naked Cameron Mathison and I'll die happy. Uh, what's that? Stephanie Plum? Shut up, damn you! Now all my nice feelings have evaporated all over again. Stephanie Plum. Gah. "Plum"ming new depths when it comes to staleness, more like. "Plumming" Briantonio, ooh. Ahem.

Anyway, to me, the Stephanie Plum series officially ended with Four To Score. Yes, I'm floating in a river in Egypt. What? I can't hear you, la-la-la...

Rating: 59


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