The 100 Books Project: Lean Mean Thirteen.

‘Don’t expect miracles. She’s an accident waiting to happen.’

“Lean Mean Thirteen: A Stephanie Plumm Novel” by Janet Evanovich

I don’t typically read a lot of chick lit, and I’ve only just recently gotten into mysteries. Lean Mean Thirteen is the type of book that might easily turn me off to both genres by how generic and lackluster it was. A book given to me by my roommate’s mother (a lot of people give me books and I love them for it), I picked it up next because it was simply the one that was next. The title, which I spent the whole book waiting to be explained, has nothing to do with the story; it’s the thirteenth Stephanie Plum novel, and each book has a play on which number it is (“One for the Money,” “Two for the Dough”, “Seven Up,” “Hard Eight,” you get the idea), so perhaps since it’s so far along in a series of many other books, Janet Evanovich (naturally so) assumes the reader has made it through twelve other books and doesn’t want to mince details, because this is an extremely skeletal book, with absolutely no meat and very little muscle on it. There is very little description, either of characters, locales, or internal narrative. It’s mostly a dialogue driven book, which makes it a pretty quick read, too. It’s just fairly unspectacular.

So, who is Stephanie Plum? Steph is rough around the edges, sometimes lazy, sometimes crass Jersey girl who works as a bounty hunter for a bond agency. She’s got two hot boyfriends (one a cop, one another bounty hunter) and an ex-husband who’s stirring up some trouble. Stephanie’s been having trouble with some of her hunting lately, so she’s doing what she can to make up for some jobs while getting all accused for murdering her ex-husband. She flew off the handle at him in his office the day before he disappeared, making her prime suspect numbero uno. I won’t get into too much detail in case anyone should want to read the book themselves, but even the mystery here is pretty weak. The reason why Dickie (that’s the ex) is missing seems less interesting than some of Stephanie’s misfit file of cases, and, in fact, the main story with Dickie almost seems to take backseat, since the bond cases tend to open up to more wacky hijinks, such as exploding beaver bombs.

Yes. Exploding beaver bombs. Which was amusing at first but, like many of the jokes running through Lean Mean Thirteen, got pretty tired after a while. It’s just a zany romp through some of Stephanie’s misadventures and romances, without really much substance to weigh it down. Which can sometimes be a good thing, but I want a little something more in my books. I mean, I got more depth and introspective from the Goosebumps book I read earlier this year. That’s…not good.

I am intrigued to see if the previous twelve books are written very much in the same style, or if they did start out a little more rounded out and, as the series went on, things just went kind of…lazy. And I hope that if I ever do start getting my series published, that my writing doesn’t get like that.

Books read: 24 out of 100.


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