Evanovich, Janet 1943–
Evanovich, Janet 1943–
Born April 22, 1943, in South River, NJ; married; husband's name Pete; children: Peter, Alex (daughter). Education: Attended Douglass College.
Home—P.O. Box 5487, Hanover, NH 03755. E-mail—[email protected]
Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.
John Creasey Memorial, Last Laugh, and Silver Dagger award, all from Crime Writers Association; Lefty award, Left Coast Crime; Dilys award, Independent Booksellers Association; Quill Award, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category, 2006, for Twelve Sharp; Golden Leaf Award, New Jersey Romance Writers.
DETECTIVE NOVELS; "STEPHANIE PLUM" SERIES
One for the Money, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.
Two for the Dough, Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.
Three to Get Deadly, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.
Four to Score, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
High Five, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Hot Six, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Seven Up, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Three Plums in One (contains One for the Money, Two for the Dough, and Three to Get Deadly), Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.
Hard Eight, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Visions of Sugar Plums, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
To the Nines, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Ten Big Ones, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Eleven on Top, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Twelve Sharp, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Lean Mean Thirteen, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Plum Lovin', St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
ROMANCE NOVELS; "MAX HOLT" SERIES
(As Steffie Hall) Full House, Second Chance at Love, 1989.
(With Charlotte Hughes) Full Tilt, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Charlotte Hughes) Full Speed, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Charlotte Hughes) Full Blast, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Charlotte Hughes) Full Bloom, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Charlotte Hughes) Full Scoop, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.
(As Steffie Hall) Hero at Large, Second Chance at Love, 1987.
The Grand Finale, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.
Thanksgiving, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.
Manhunt, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, HarperTorch (New York, NY), 2005.
(As Steffie Hall) Foul Play, Second Chance at Love, 1989.
Ivan Takes a Wife, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989, published as Love Overboard, HarperTorch (New York, NY), 2005.
Back to the Bedroom, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, HarperTorch (New York, NY), 2005.
Wife for Hire, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.
Smitten, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
The Rocky Road to Romance, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.
Naughty Neighbor, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.
Metro Girl (novel; "Alexandra Barnaby" series), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Motor Mouth (novel; "Alexandra Barnaby" series), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Ina Yaloff and Alex Evanovich) How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author (nonfiction), St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Leanne Banks) Hot Stuff, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.
One for the Money was adapted for film by TriStar.
Janet Evanovich is the author of a successful series of humorous detective novels set in Trenton, New Jersey. The works feature protagonist Stephanie Plum, a feisty Jersey girl who turns to bounty hunting when she loses her job as a lingerie buyer. Characterized by a flamboyant wardrobe, big hair, and an impertinent manner, Plum tracks bail jumpers for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman. In 1994's One for the Money, the novel in which she is introduced, Plum tackles her first assignment, the capture of Joe Morelli, a police officer and accused murderer who also happens to be the man to whom she lost her virginity when she was sixteen.
Reviewing One for the Money, Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review delighted in a bounty-hunting protagonist "with Bette Midler's mouth and Cher's fashion sense." Stasio concluded: "With [Plum's] brazen style and dazzling wardrobe, who could resist this doll?" Calling the novel "funny and ceaselessly inventive," Charles Champlin in the Los Angeles Book Review applauded Evanovich's use of first-person narration. According to Champlin, "Stephanie's voice, breezy and undauntable is all her own…. [Her] moral seems to be that when the going gets tough, the tough get funny." But Marvin Lachman, writing in Armchair Detective, complained that "Plum's … voice becomes irritating, largely due to its consistently unsophisticated speech." In addition, calling the plot "minimal," Lachman indicated that the story "cannot sustain a book of two hundred and ninety pages," specifically noting that "reader suspension of disbelief is … threatened" by Plum's prior relationship with Morelli. Kate Wilson, in a mixed review in Entertainment Weekly, suggested that Evanovich's inexperience as a novelist is evident in occasionally contrived dialogue, but nevertheless described heroine Plum as "intelligent, cheery, and genuine." Dwight Garner in the Washington Post Book World characterized One for the Money as "a lightweight but very funny crime novel" and a "bright, bracing book [that] comes roaring in like a blast of very fresh air."
Evanovich's follow-up novel, Two for the Dough, depicts Plum's pursuit of fugitive Kenny Mancuso. The case is complicated by a secondary mystery involving two dozen coffins missing from a local mortuary and intensified by the protagonist's ongoing relationship with Morelli, who also has an interest in the case. Ultimately, Plum's grandmother gets involved, and, in the words of Times Literary Supplement reviewer Natasha Cooper, "does her ham-fisted best to assist Stephanie, falling into coffins, firing off bullets, and upsetting the entire neighborhood." In the Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Ross praised Two for the Dough, noting: "Evanovich has created not just an immediately likeable heroine, but an entire real, vibrant, and … colorful world. We call it wild and sassy, we call it wonderful." In the New York Times Book Review, Stasio again praised heroine Plum, whom she described as "the motor-mouthed Jersey girl from Trenton … with her pepper spray, stun gun, up-to-here hair and out-to-there attitude." An Entertainment Weekly reviewer, however, called the "local color … a bit too forcibly hued" and complained that the "dialogue has a mechanical, insular feel." A critic in Belles Lettres found that although "there are some great lines" in Two for the Dough, it "isn't as funny" as the first Plum mystery. In the Times Literary Supplement, however, Cooper called the work "an entertaining parody of the hard-boiled American crime novel."
The third volume in the series, Three to Get Deadly, details Plum's search for "Uncle Mo," a candy store owner and local hero who skipped out on a concealed weapons charge. A reviewer in Library Journal noted that Three to Get Deadly brings "more fast and funny action from a winning writer." Stasio, in an assessment in the New York Times Book Review, called the novel "another rollicking chapter in the madcap career of … Evanovich's sassy bounty hunter." A Publishers Weekly reviewer appreciated the way the heroine "muddles through another case full of one-liners as well as corpses," and concluded that "the redoubtable Stephanie is a character crying out for a screen debut."
In the fourth "Stephanie Plum" mystery, Four to Score, Stephanie is called on to find a waitress who has jumped bail after a car-theft charge. Four to Score includes some familiar characters as well as a supporting cast of eccentrics. New York Times Book Review contributor Stasio again praised Evanovich's work, calling this novel a "brashly funny adventure."
High Five, the next volume in the series, became Evanovich's first hardcover bestseller. Its plot involves a missing uncle, a stalker, some photos of body parts in garbage bags, and Stephanie's adventures—or misadventures—working odd jobs when her bounty-hunting business slows down. The novel "deftly combines eccentric, colorful characters, wacky humor, and nonstop … action," observed Wilda Williams in Library Journal. "The action never stops," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who praised the book's "snappy" dialogue and sharply-drawn characters. No less popular was Hot Six, in which Stephanie agrees to help her mentor, Ranger, clear himself after being accused of killing Homer Ramos, a drug and gun dealer. Admiring the book as a "lunatic tapestry of nonstop action" and bizarre yet funny characters, a writer for Publishers Weekly concluded that "Evanovich just keeps getting better."
In Seven Up, which New York Times Book Review critic Stasio described as "pure, classic farce—Jersey girl style," Stephanie goes after Eddie DeChooch, an aging mobster who happens to be dating her grandmother. Though a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found this effort less successful than its predecessor, Booklist contributor GraceAnne A. DeCandido hailed it as both hilarious and sensitive to all of its characters, even the unattractive Eddie. "No character, no matter how broadly draw, stays a caricature for long," wrote DeCandido, who added that "it's difficult to read Evanovich in public places, so frequently do chuckles turn into belly laughs."
Evanovich's 2003 offering, To The Nines, finds Stephanie on the silly, sexy, and sometimes terrifying case of missing Indian contract worker, Samuel Singh. Her cousin and employer, Vinnie, has teamed her up with the always intriguing Ranger, who continues to provide romantic competition for Stephanie's temporary roommate, Joe Morelli. There is a serial killer on the loose and Stephanie, the recipient of sinister floral deliveries, appears to be on his list. This least likely of bounty hunters finds herself in Las Vegas as the plot thickens around Evanovich's trademark host of lively characters. Her sidekicks, office manager Connie and ex-prostitute turned bounty hunter Lulu, provide entertainment to rival that of the Elvis and Tom Jones impersonators Stephanie inevitably encounters. The Plum family is reliably eccentric with appearances from Grandma Mazur and Stephanie's mom, who has reached her limit while housing Stephanie's pregnant unwed sister, Valerie.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called To The Nines "nonstop, zany adventure." Although Marianne Fitzgerald of Library Journal maintained that the trip to Las Vegas is an unsatisfactory deviation from the usual New Jersey stomping grounds, she recommended this installment to those "clamoring for their Stephanie fix." A Kirkus Reviews contributor stated: "The plot is—as usual—a shambles" but went on to acknowledge that "the people and their dialogue are as sharp and funny as ever," which may have contributed to the book's nine-week stint as a best-selling hardcover.
In the tenth episode of the series, Ten Big Ones, Stephanie hunts down more elusive, idiosyncratic bail jumpers, including a woman who held up a Frito-Lay truck for corn chips, bringing a quick end to her "no-carb" diet, and a man arrested for urinating on his neighbor's rose bushes. Early in the novel, Stephanie finds herself in hot water when she witnesses a convenience store robbery and, because she can identify the culprits, becomes a target for a local street gang. She seeks cover at Ranger's apartment, intensifying the Morelli-Ranger romantic drama.
While Entertainment Weekly contributor Karen Karbo felt that the book "clearly suffers from book-a-year syndrome," a Publishers Weekly reviewer related that "Evanovich is at her best in her tenth Stephanie Plum adventure," which, according to the reviewer, "reads like the screenplay for a 1930s screwball comedy: fast, funny, and furious." In a People review, contributor Samantha Miller expressed "one quibble" with the book: " Ten Big Ones wraps up so abruptly that readers might feel payoff-deprived." Overall, however, Miller praised Evanovich, commenting that the author's series "is as addictive as Fritos—and ten books in, not losing any of its salty crunch." Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin found that "the strain of keeping her formula fresh and funny shows." However, Zvirin concluded: "Fortunately, a dynamite finish—unexpected and very funny—saves the day." Even reviewers who were not impressed by the book's plot were often compelled to praise the author for her usual cast of amusing and eccentric characters.
Next in the series is Eleven on Top, which finds Stephanie tiring of the rough treatment she receives from her criminal clients. In a bold career move, Stephanie leaves her cousin's bounty-hunting business and gets a job at a button factory, then a dry cleaning business. When neither enterprise works out, and after her car is blown to bits, Stephanie gets a job at a fast-food restaurant, which ends when the store is blown up as well. On top of the constant explosions around her, Stephanie keeps receiving creepy, threatening notes from a stalker, who is obviously keeping tabs on her whereabouts. When Stephanie's stalker runs over Joe with a car, Stephanie joins Lula, who has taken over her duties, in hunting criminals and trying to solve the mystery that has come way too close to her personal life for comfort.
"Each Stephanie Plum book is better than the one before," wrote Harriet Klausner in a review of Eleven on Top on her Review Archive Web site. "Janet Evanovich is a creative writer who brilliantly spins slapstick into life-threatening events," Klausner concluded. While a Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that the lead character of the series "stumbles out of the gate due to some forced humor," the reviewer added that she "eventually hits her usually entertaining stride." Other reviewers found the book humorous from start to finish. GraceAnne A. DeCandido commented in Booklist that the eleventh book in the series is "brimming with lines that will have readers howling with laughter," adding that "it's wonderful to watch both a beloved character and a cherished author grow." In a review for the ABC Wide Bay Qld Web site, Sue Gammon expressed disappointment with the tenth book, commenting that Ten Big Ones, "while enjoyable, was also fairly predictable." After reading Eleven on Top, however, Gammon acknowledged that "Evanovich is back on top form with this light-hearted and funny episode in the perils of Plum."
In Twelve Sharp, "Evanovich uses all of her considerable arsenal" of plot and storytelling techniques to create a tale focused on Stephanie Plum's bounty hunting partner and sometime lover, Ranger Manoso, noted GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist. Unable to make a romantic decision between the quietly powerful Ranger and police office Joe Morelli, Stephanie is astonished when a woman who claims to be Ranger's wife suddenly storms into her life. The alleged Carmen Manoso warns Stephanie away from Ranger, but shortly afterward is found shot to death in an SUV outside Plum's bond agency. Worse, reports are surfacing that Ranger has kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Julie, from the girl's mother and stepfather in Florida. Stephanie discovers that it is not Ranger who committed the act, but a deranged impersonator and identity thief intent on acquiring all aspects of Ranger's life, including Stephanie herself. Evanovich "finds exactly the tight tone of danger-laden farce for Stephanie's duel with the false Ranger," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic. The author is "one of the very few writers whose skill can turn what should be serious moments into boisterously funny scenes. And her technique shines in Twelve Sharp, commented Oline H. Cogdill in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "The boundaries of good taste are deliciously stretched; low-brow comedy becomes an art in Evanovich's hands," Cogdill remarked.
With Metro Girl, Evanovich steps away from the "Stephanie Plum" series to concentrate on a new series hero, Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby. The first novel tells of Alexandra's search for her missing brother, who has run afoul of an exiled Cuban warlord. In the second book in the series, Motor Mouth, Alexandra, an engineer and racing enthusiast, works as a spotter for NASCAR driver Sam Hooker, helping him to avoid trouble on the track during races. She and Sam are also estranged lovers, whose relationship suffered a rift when he was caught in a one-night stand with a sales clerk. Alexandra retains her professionalism and continues to work as Sam's spotter, but otherwise she has little contact with him. When Sam loses a close race, Alexandra believes that the opposing team cheated, and the search begins for an electronic device that gives the other side an illegal upper hand. The stakes get even higher when a murder is discovered and the villains take an interest in stopping Alexandra and Sam from ferreting out their secret. Evanovich plumbs NASCAR trivia and lore to fill in the background of a story based firmly in the big-money, high-RPM world of professional racing. The protagonists "find themselves in one outrageously hilarious situation after another," commented DeCandido in another Booklist review, concluding that Evanovich "appears to have another winner on her hands."
After a solid and successful career as a novelist, Evanovich has acquired considerable insight on the process of writing and publishing. She shares this information in How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, cowritten with Ina Yaloff and daughter Alex Evanovich. While coauthor Yaloff covers some of the nuts-and-bolts basics of writing, Evanovich offers expert commentary and answers to questions readers and hopeful writers have posed to her on her Web site. She explains in detail her techniques for writing dialogue, accurate crime scenes, storylines and plots. Her real-world examples also amount to a great deal of background and inside information on the creation and writing of the "Stephanie Plum" novels. Though reviewer Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, felt that much of Evanovich's advice can be found in other forms in other resources. "What you can't find in most writers' guides is her inimitable voice and a wealth of examples" drawn from her own successful novels, Cooper stated. "Learning how bestselling author Janet Evanovich writes might not guarantee success to all those aspiring writers out there, but she does offer much constructive advice beyond the usual ‘show, don't tell’ offerings in the plethora of how-to-write books on the market," noted Bookreporter.com reviewer Roz Shea.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, summer, 1995, Marvin Lachman, review of One for the Money, p. 287.
Belles Lettres, January, 1996, review of Two for the Dough, p. 15.
Booklist, May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Hot Six, p. 1622; May 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Hot Six, p. 1598, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Seven Up, p. 1628, and "Story behind the Story: Stephanie Plum as Indiana Jones," p. 1629; May 1, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Ten Big Ones, p. 1506; March 15, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of Full Bloom, p. 1272; May 15, 2005, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Eleven on Top, p. 1612; July 1, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Twelve Sharp, p. 7; September 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, p. 36; September 15, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Motor Mouth, p. 5; December 15, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Plum Lovin', p. 5.
Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 1996, Michelle Ross, review of Two for the Dough, p. 21.
Detroit Free Press, June 21, 2006, Marta Salij, "Evanovich is as Sharp as Ever in Latest Plum Adventure," review of Twelve Sharp.
Entertainment Weekly, November 11, 1994, Kate Wilson, review of One for the Money, p. 68; February 23, 1996, review of Two for the Dough, p. 119; June 15, 2004, Karen Karbo, review of Ten Big Ones, p. 172; June 23, 2006, J.P. Mangalindan, review of Twelve Sharp, p. 73.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of To the Nines, p. 781; May 15, 2005, review of Eleven on Top, p. 565; June 1, 2006, review of Twelve Sharp, p. 548; September 15, 2006, review of Motor Mouth, p. 922.
Kliatt, July, 2005, Mary Purucker, review of Full Bloom, p. 53.
Library Journal, December, 1996, review of Three to Get Deadly, p. 151; June 1, 1999, Wilda Williams, review of High Five, p. 186; May 1, 2000, Wilda Williams, review of Hot Six, p. 158; June 1, 2001, Wilda Williams, review of Seven Up, p. 224; July, 2003, Marianne Fitzgerald, review of To the Nines, p. 130; June 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Ten Big Ones, p. 107.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 20, 1994, Charles Champlin, review of One for the Money, p. 8.
New York Times Book Review, September 4, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of One for the Money, p. 17; January 21, 1996, Marilyn Stasio, review of Two for the Dough, p. 31; February 16, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of Three to Get Deadly, p. 28; July 19, 1998, Marilyn Stasio, review of Four to Score, p. 20; June 27, 1999, Marilyn Stasio, review of High Five, p. 26; July 22, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of Seven Up, p. 22; June 22, 2005, Edward Wyatt, "For This Author, Writing is Only the Beginning," profile of Janet Evanovich, p. E1.
People, June 21, 2004, Samantha Miller, review of Ten Big Ones, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, November 25, 1996, review of Three to Get Deadly, p. 59; June 21, 1999, review of High Five, p. 60; July 5, 1999, "A High Five Family," p. 23; November 8, 1999, "Good Seven for High Five," p. 14; May 1, 2000, review of Hot Six, p. 52; May 7, 2001, review of Seven Up, p. 227; June 23, 2003, review of To the Nines, p. 50; June 7, 2004, review of Ten Big Ones, pp. 35-36; July 5, 2004, Daisy Maryles, "It's 10 for the Money," review of Ten Big Ones, p. 13; March 14, 2005, review of Full Bloom, p. 51; May 30, 2005, review of Eleven on Top, p. 43; May 22, 2006, review of Twelve Sharp, p. 33; December 18, 2006, review of Plum Lovin', p. 43.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 21, 2006, Oline H. Cogdill, "Twelve Sharp: Plum Tale Darker, but Still Juicy," review of Twelve Sharp.
Times Literary Supplement, March 15, 1996, Natasha Cooper, review of Two for the Dough, p. 24.
Washington Post Book World, August 28, 1994, Dwight Garner, review of One for the Money, p. 6.
ABC Wide Bay Qld Web Site (Australia), http://www.abc.net.au/ (February 6, 2007), Sue Gammon, review of Eleven on Top.
All About Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (September 18, 1998), Lorna Jean, "Quickie with Janet Evanovich on Her Stephanie Plum Series," interview with Janet Evanovich.
BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (February 6, 2007), Bruce Tierney, "Janet Evanovich: Mystery Maven Keeps Readers Coming Back for More," interview with Janet Evanovich; "Meet the Author: Janet Evanovich," biography of Janet Evanovich.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 6, 2007), Roz Shea, review of Two for the Dough; Roz Shea, review of Three to Get Deadly; Roz Shea, review of Four to Score; Roz Shea, review of High Five; Roz Shea, review of Hot Six; Roz Shea, review of Seven Up Roz Shea, review of Hard Eight; Roz Shea, review of Visions of Sugar Plums; Maggie Harding, review of To the Nines; Roz Shea, review of Ten Big Ones; Roz Shea, review of Metro Girl; Roz Shea, review of Eleven on Top; Roz Shea, review of Twelve Sharp; Roz Shea, review of How I Write; Roz Shea, review of Motor Mouth; Roz Shea, review of Plum Lovin'.
Fantastic Fiction,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (February 6, 2007), bibliography of Janet Evanovich.
Harriet Klausner's Review Archive,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (February 6, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Eleven on Top.
Janet Evanovich Home Page,http://www.evanovich.com (February 6, 2007).
Writers Write,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (February 6, 2007), Claire E. White, "A Conversation with Janet Evanovich."