Review: One for the Money

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Series: Stephanie Plum
Genre: Mystery
Maturity Level: 5 (Trigger warning, sexual assault)
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


You’ve lost your job as a department store lingerie buyer, your car’s been repossessed, and most of your furniture and small appliances have been sold off to pay last month’s rent. Now the rent is due again. And you live in New Jersey. What do you do?

If you’re Stephanie Plum, you become a bounty hunter. But not just a nickel-and-dime bounty hunter; you go after the big money. That means a cop gone bad. And not just any cop. She goes after Joe Morelli, a disgraced former vice cop who is also the man who took Stephanie’s virginity at age 16 and then wrote details on a bathroom wall. With pride and rent money on the line, Plum plunges headlong into her first case, one that pits her against ruthless adversaries – people who’d rather kill than lose.


One for the Money  was written in 1994, and it did NOT age well. Aside from Stephanie Plum’s abhorrent fashion sense (biker shorts + hairspray) and the dated technology, the casual sexism, even from the female protagonist, is sure to offend any 21st century feminist.

But if you can get past all of that, this book is a lot of fun.

Stephanie Plum is pretty much what you would expect from an amateur sleuth. She stumbles across clues by complete accident, not through any cleverness on her part. I saw a lot of criticism of the utter ridiculousness of a woman with zero crime fighting experience becoming a bounty hunter that could take down an ex-cop, but whatever y’all, it’s a BOOK, you gotta suspend your disbelief. What I liked about Stephanie was that she took the amateur sleuth trope and gave it a VERY Jersey twist. It was like Sandra Bullock in Ms. Congeniality meets Jersey Shore. The result was a novel and characters with a whole lot of flavor.

And really, the Jersey setting and attitude made this book. I was kind of indifferent to Stephanie and the mystery, but Stephanie’s family (especially her grandmother) killed me. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed out loud as much while reading a book as I did during the scene where Stephanie comes home and tells her parents she’s a bounty hunter. Then Grandma gets a hold of the gun. It. Was. Hilarious.

I mean, playing with guns isn’t funny. Hem.

Actually, the Jersey setting and the mystery as a whole were quite a bit grittier than I was expecting. I had seen the movie like, a decade ago or something, and it was pretty campy. I was expecting a similar feel from the book. But instead it was a surprisingly good blend of the two. Although, if I’m being honest, it got a little TOO dark on the sexual assault front for my taste. Very violent, very disturbing.

Really my biggest critique of the book is the way men treat Stephanie. It’s not even that they treat her like a damsel in distress, which would be expected and something that could be overcome. It was the catcalls, the staring at her breasts, the CONSTANT sexual innuendo. And on some level I think that was on purpose from Evanovich, and attempt to show how crappy it is for women in Jersey. But Stephanie really played into it, being just as suggestive about and to the men and herself. But, as I mentioned, I feel like this is just a different era from when it was written, and at the time it probably just added to the sense of humor.

So all in all, a fun read, but I wasn’t super invested. I probably won’t be picking up the rest of the series, but I wouldn’t turn them away either.

17 thoughts on “Review: One for the Money

  1. I remember reading this book a gazillion years ago and laughing out loud. But somewhere around book 15? stories got very repetitive feeling and a little too absurd with the plot lines. So I haven’t read any of the more recent ones.

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    1. That’s to me the problem with mysteries. I know some people love that there are so many books in the series, but I just don’t. In fact, in any genre I’ll typically not finish a series unless it is REALLY compelling.

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  2. Ha! I’ve read a number of them from this series but not the first one. Would have to agree that Stephanie’s sexiness, wardrobe, and the behavior of the men in her life are played as part of the Jersey culture and played for humor. Yeah, if your feminism doesn’t allow you to enjoy that kind of humor, you won’t enjoy these books. I wouldn’t say any of that stuff gets better thru the series, but it does get funnier. Grandma Mazur is a hoot, and as the series goes along, they add more and more colorful regular characters, including a second love interest for Stephanie, until it’s really as if Steph is the only (sort of) sane person in a world of colorful characters.

    I agree with Tracey R that the books do get wearing if you read too many of them in a row. It’s like eating Oreos or something: if you space them out, they are super fun once in a while, but too many at once can make you sick.

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  3. I’ve read every single one and grown quite attached to Grandma Mazur and Lula. If it weren’t for those two characters I don’t think I would have kept reading, but every time she comes out with a new one I relish the opportunity to reconnect with Grandma Mazur and Lula. I find it to be good summer reading in between heavier books.

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  4. Great review! I first read this one when I was like, 15, and didn’t pick up on all of the problematic aspects, but I had so much fun binging the series at that time that I’ve been wanting to reread for nostalgic purposes. It’s good to know from someone who’s read it recently that it hasn’t aged well- that’s basically what I anticipated, but it’s good to be prepared. I’m not surprised this book did well in its day, but it is surprising to me that the series is still going! I’m not that interested anymore, but I would be curious to learn whether the same problematic aspects are still getting published, or are being weeded out.

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