Full Speed
by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes, contemporary (2003)
St Martin's Press, $7.99, ISBN 0-312-98329-8


Janet Evanovich and her second-in-command Charlotte Hughes continue the Jamie Swift and Max Holt series that they started with Full Tilt. Just to recap, Jamie is a newspaper reporter yearning to cover Really Important Stuff like deaths and gang actions. Max is the millionaire who owns horse ranches, R&D firms, a talking car called Muffin, and oh yes, he also owns the paper Jamie is writing for and working at. In the previous book, Jamie's boyfriend's mother is a gang member, lots of wacko stuff happens, and Jamie and Max almost got it on.

In Full Speed, Mafia Madness continues as Jamie pretends to be a sex addict to investigate a minister with ties to the mob. Oh, and she buys a battered Dodge (there's only two types of vehicles in Ms Evanovich's world - Buick or Dodge) that comes with a mangy dog that hates country music. Max keeps watch, Jamie keeps messing, and Muffin becomes matchmaker. People die, Max keeps some unnecessary secrets that he reveal to Jamie only at convenient times, and then it's over and the two authors expect everybody to join them in book three. $7.99 donations at the collection plate before you leave, people.

While Jamie is smarter and not as irritating as she was in Full Tilt, I must confess that there's a sameness in Full Speed that suggests that maybe Janet Evanovich's brand of humor has become somewhat stale and in need of a recharge. Maybe Ms Hughes can replace the Evian with Ribena at the next brainstorming session. The fact that Max is... well, everything also stretches credulity somewhat. The dog, the Dodge, the villains, the "wackiness" - everything seems to be very familiar, and that's because I've read them so many times in so many Janet Evanovich novels before. Maybe Ms Evanovich should give Ms Hughes a chance to do her share of the dictation more often in the future. Then again, I remember Ms Hughes' own rather unimpressive brand of humor, and I have to take back my suggestion. Let's just stick with Ribena.

If there are fans out there that just cannot get enough of the ha-ha-ha's, Janet Evanovich style, $7.99 may be a small price to pay to ha-ha-ha at this uglier stepchild of the Stephanie Plum series. There is nothing new or fresh in Full Speed, so readers that have read at least one of Janet Evanovich's books will know what to expect. Me, I'm somewhat overdosed on the sameness that permeates everything that has Janet Evanovich's name on it, so Full Speed's failure to present anything fresh just piles on the indifference and even boredom in me.

Rating: 70


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