Bark's Book Nonsense's Reviews > Hard Eight

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
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Mar 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: suspense
Read in February, 2003

I received Hard Eight, the unabridged audiobook version, as a present and approached it with a small amount of wariness because the last Janet Evanovich book I read on audio (that would be Seven Up) was ruined by the terrible over the top, cartoon-like rendering of the characters by narrator Tonya Elby. Hard Eight is read by a woman named Lorelei who takes an extremely different approach to Stephanie. Her approach, unfortunately, also does not work for me. Am I too picky, or what?

Stephanie's voice as read in this version is way too cultured, way too slow and it doesn't sound at all like the Stephanie Plum we all know and love. Here she sounds more like an out of place blue blooded socialite than a plucky Trenton, New Jersey girl. Stephanie's words are too often over-enunciated and the Jersey accent is lost altogether. And Ranger?! Ugh, he almost sounds like Fez from "That 70's Show". Is there no happy medium here folks? I must say, though, that the other characters do come to life and the reader did a great job differentiating the characters from each other (unlike the actress who voiced Seven Up). When a child speaks she sounds like a child. When a criminal speaks he sounds like a criminal. Not necessarily a criminal from New Jersey but I guess you just can't have it all.

Now about the story:

This time around Stephanie is on the search for a missing woman named Evelyn Soder and her young daughter Annie. Evelyn's grandmother Mabel is a neighbor of the Plum family (this is how Stephanie gets wrapped up in the case). Evelyn's ex-husband plans to cash in a "child custody bond" funded by Mabel. Mabel fears she'll lose her home if Evelyn isn't found and she fears for her great-granddaughter because Evelyn isn't exactly a "stable" personality.

So, Stephanie, our fearless, bumbling bounty hunter and her friend Lula start sniffing around and before long they have a run in with Evelyn's landlord, an evil man named Eddie Abruzzi. Abruzzi, who gives even street toughened Lula the creeps, is a nasty criminal who adds a much needed dark edge to this predictably frothy series.

Rounding out the cast of characters are the usual members that inhabit Stephanie's wild life. Grandma Mazer is her normally wacky self, Stephanie's not-quite-so-perfect-anymore sister Valerie is still trying to find herself and newcomer Albert Kloughn (pronounced Clown, of course) joins the cast. He's a goofy lawyer who badly wants to be Stephanie's assistant and begins to follow her around like a lost puppy dog. Accident prone yet immensely lovable, Kloughn provides a few of the (far too few) comical moments in the story. The usual run-ins with Ranger and Joe are here but I have to admit this love triangle stuff is getting awfully stale. Stephanie's still torn between the two sexy men and flip-flops between them. I wish they'd just hash it out and put an end to this tired "who will she pick?" drama. Enough already!

This story was my least favorite of the Plum books. It's not bad by any means and still entertains with its fast pace and moments of wit and I enjoyed the dark edge but the laugh out moments are too few and far between and everything has become too predictable. Stephanie is stuck in a rut and hasn't grown a bit since Book One. She keeps repeating the same mistakes that were funny, oh say three books ago? She forgets her gun, she bumbles her FTA's, she has intense sexual tension with Ranger and Joe, her cars are blown up at an alarming rate, and she eats horrifically bad food but still manages to squeeze into her jeans. It's all too familiar at this point but, yeah, I'll still buy the next book because even mediocre Stephanie Plum is better than no Stephanie Plum.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Great review!!

message 2: by TJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

TJ I TOTALLY agree! As annoyed as I can get with this series, I can't stop reading it! K, BLWM, are you a Ranger or Joe woman?

Bark's Book Nonsense She should be able to have them both ;) I think she'd be better off with Joe in the long run. Ranger is more of fling type of guy.

message 4: by TJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

TJ Part of my HUGE annoyance with the series is Evanovich never delves into the psyche of Ranger that makes him so mysterious. Hey even if it were a fling, it would sure be fun to read and figure him out... then she could settle down with Joe and be happy ;D There are so many opportunities for added depth in this series that Evanovich never bothers to explore.

Bark's Book Nonsense I know, it drives me nuts. It's all surface stuff when there could be so much more. Still, when I'm tired I can count on Evanovich to deliver a nice, brainless read.

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