Stephanie Plum, a big-haired, divorced Jersey girl, has fallen on hard times. Having lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a mob-affiliated discount store, she's desperate for employment. So she blackmails her unsavory cousin Vinny into giving her a job as a bounty hunter, a career that has the potential to be quite lucrative. The only problem is that in order to get paid, she actually has to catch some FTAs (FTA being law enforcement jargon for alleged criminals who have been released on bail bond only to skip their court hearings). Stephanie soon learns that catching her first FTA is not going to be as easy as she thought, but she really needs the $10,000. Plus, she has a personal score to settle. The supposed-murderer she's after is one Joe Morelli (a cop turned bad), who long ago robbed Stephanie of her virginity then never even gave her a call, let alone a commitment. Stephanie's attempts to locate Joe soon lead her to the famous boxer and alleged rapist, Benito Ramirez. She manages to offend Ramirez who promises to teach her a "lesson."
With the Stephanie Plum series, Janet Evanovich proves she is an expert at combining a strong mystery plot with plenty of humor and (sometimes steamy) romance. This series is not for those who are sensitive to swear words. The earlier books are more "gritty" and violent than the later titles. As a heroine/sleuth Stephanie is rather ditsy but thanks to the well-written first person narrative, the reader soon realizes that she's actually quite intelligent and very likable, too. The supporting cast provides many laughs--be on the lookout for Grandma Mazur! This is the first book in the series which continues with Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, Four to Score, High Five, and Hot Six.
Reviewed by mh, 6/00. Other reviews by mh.