mokie: Clue's Ms White saying, "Flames on the sides of my face" (angry)
Sizzling Sixteen - Janet Evanovich [Stephanie Plum mysteries]

Because it's too hot to concentrate on big words, dammit.

Ever since the Plum series hit the double-digits, Evanovich has been phoning it in, but it was easy to forgive. She was still slipping some honest belly laughs into the books, they were still tough to put down (once you got past the phonebooth and into the middle), and nobody had high expectations--the series is blatant in its formulaic fun.

With book 16, though, it's more like she scribbled down a barebones outline of marks to hit and handed it to someone else to fill in the dots. Lulabonics moment? Check. Cluck-in-a-Bucket reference? Check. Morelli appearance even though she doesn't know what to do with him anymore? Check.

And as they tediously checked off Plum prerequisites and clichés, I waited for the first belly laugh. Instead, all I heard between the lines was the voice of Evanovich going through the motions: Stephanie and Lula, doughnuts, blah blah blah... Something goofy, something--eh, a lucky bottle. And an alligator. Sure, whatever.

So, has Evanovich checked out? She has other irons in the fire, but the Plum series is her bread and butter, and she may not be able to retire it even if she's lost interest and ready to call it quits. Or has she literally handed it over to a less-than-stellar ghost writer? (The rumor online is that Evanovich has handed over the Plum reins to her daughter.)

Personally, I figure she meant to set up a romantic triangle and instead wrote herself into a corner, and has yet to realize that getting out will require the unthinkable: character development!

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