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    Review of SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN by Janet Evanovich


    Bantam, June 2011

    Stephanie Plum still can't make up her mind what to do with her love life (she can't say no to Morelli or Ranger) when Morelli's grandmother puts the evil eye on her. This isn't just an ordinary evil eye--it results in a big zit on Stephanie's forehead and a sudden surge of sexual desire that makes her almost throw herself at whoever she's with (Ranger). Meanwhile rebuilding of the bail bonds shop is held up when several bodies are discovered in the construction zone. Finally, the brother of Stephanie's first victim is out of prison and gunning for her.

    Although the bond office was destroyed, work must go on and Stephanie, along with sidekick Lula, tracks down a man who thinks he is a vampire (naturally Lula thinks she's been infected), and a naked man with anger management issues. If that isn't enough, Stephanie's mother, convinced that her relationship with Joe Morelli is going nowhere and that Ranger isn't even in the picture, has decided to hook Stephanie up with a new love interest.

    Author Janet Evanovich ( see more reviews of mysteries by Evanovich) writes a funny book. Lula and Grandma Mazur are always good for laughs and Stephanie's issues with boyfriends, her inability to keep a car, and her incompetence as a bail bondsman make for laughs. I had some problems, however, with this story. First, the identity of the man behind the deaths was way too easy to guess. Second, I lost sympathy for Stephanie and Lula when Lula shot off a man's toe for calling her fat and when Stephanie stun-gunned a random man in the line at a 7-11. Overall, Stephanie seemed too quick to stun-gun, without concern for whether this was necessary or appropriate.

    Evanovich has written herself into a bit of a corner with the Morelli-Stephanie-Ranger triangle. This triangle drives a lot of the tension in the story but it's getting old. Stephanie's inability to decide among her men (and inability to announce to all that she's going to be sleeping with both of them) makes her come off as slutty rather than sympathetic. Frankly, Stephanie seems like a bad bet to me--if she ever does settle on one, how long will it be before she decides she needs to step out a little. After all, it isn't as if she hasn't decided on one before... and gone back to her two-timing ways.

    Overall, SMOKIN' SEVENTEEN is a quick read and Evanovich writes clever lines, funny characters and keeps the pages turning. The series has come down a long way from the wonderful first few books, but it's still readable and I still want to care about the characters and what happens to Stephanie next.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 2/29/12

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