It's too bad there was no clicker handy to log the chortles, chuckles, laughs and outright guffaws in Janet Evanovich's tenth anniversary collector's edition of the trials and tribulations of Stephanie Plum. In this world of trauma and travail, TEN BIG ONES offers a lighthearted romp through Trenton, New Jersey with surely the most famous, if inept, bounty hunter in America.
Stephanie and her wisecracking sidekick, Lula, are on the trail of the usual cast of wacky bail bond jumpers: a snack food freak who robs a Frito-Lay truck, a rosebush piddler, and crossdressing rocker Sally Sweet, accused of assault. Lounging against the fender of her brand new Ford Escape during a lunch break, they become not only eyewitnesses to a violent crime but also the victims. Well, the Ford becomes a victim. This leads to a confrontation with Trenton's most dangerous street gang, and because she can ID the perpetrator, Stephanie finds herself the target of a hit man from out of town. She is left without wheels and running for her life.
Enter Ranger --- or rather, exit Ranger, because he's leaving town. But he loans Stephanie his car and a key ring with a fascinating set of keys.
Longtime fans will remember crossdressing rockster Sally Sweet --- the dumpster-mouthed drag queen who we encountered first in FOUR TO SCORE. Sally's new day job is driving a school bus, which has forced him to clean up his vocabulary. He is hauled into the principal's office when parents and teachers complain about their little darlings' street language after he drops them off. He is instructed to enter into aversion therapy by wearing an elastic band on his wrist and snapping it sharply after each bad word. Sally's dialogue is punctuated with quite a lot of snapping, until he begins to get the hang of suitable language, which offers some of the book's funny moments. Sally proves helpful in his own bumbling way as Stephanie dodges the bad boys in baggy pants.
TEN BIG ONES scores with many laughs and plenty of action. Whiney sister Valerie, preparing to marry her feckless lawyer boyfriend, benefits from Sally Sweet's blossoming wedding planning talent. Grandma Mazur rides along with her mirthful meddling, Mom and Dad cook and groan, respectively, and Morelli --- poor, patient, macho Joe Morelli --- agonizes over his inability to keep our heroine safe.
Pure Evanovich --- pure entertainment gold.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on June 22, 2004
Ten Big Ones: A Stephanie Plum Novel