Stephanie Plum has been a bounty hunter in 24 novels by Janet Evanovich. In her 25th Plum novel, “Look Alive Twenty-Five,” Plum takes on a second, unlikely job: the manager of a deli, supervising a comically mismatched and disorganized staff.
Plum says she stinks at her bounty-hunting job. She stinks worse as a deli manager. But there’s a reason for her career shift: a serial abductor is on the loose, and his victims are all managers at this deli. For her new adventure, Stephanie drags along her friends – Morelli, Ranger, Lula – and acquires a few more.
And by the end of the story, it’s clear there will be a 26th book (It will be called “Twisted Twenty-Six.”)
“Look Alive Twenty Five” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 311 pp., $28) hits bookstores on Nov. 13. On Nov. 14, Evanovich comes to Hartford to discuss her publishing career in an event presented by the Mark Twain House & Museum. Gina Barreca will be the host of the evening.
But in advance of the event, we chatted with Evanovich about her book series.
What is at the root of Stephanie Plum’s lasting appeal?
She fills a hole in the marketplace. I write the happy book, the book you know is going to have a good ending, is going to be about not perfect but basically good people. I write books about family and community and law and order.
I’m never going to get invited on Oprah. I never make people cry or give them deep thoughts. I’m a shallow author. My job is entertainment and to put forth things that are positive and realistic.
Her family is not perfect either, but that’s what life is. … Her grandfather would like to shoot her grandmother and her grandmother is two cans short of a case and her mother drinks too much. … But at the end of the day they are there for Stephanie.
Stephanie Plum is fond of saying she stinks at her job. Do you agree?
Over the course of the series — we don’t really know how long that is because Stephanie and I have decided not to age — she has improved as a bounty hunter and grown as a person.
But I don’t think she ever will be an amazing bounty hunter because it’s not entirely in her nature. She’s not a gun person. She doesn’t know self-defense. On the other hand, she has a certain amount of compassion, she has tenacity and some luck and good friends.
She’s certainly no Ranger. He is at the other side of the spectrum. He is good at everything. He has all kinds of skills Stephanie would like to have.
A diner with bad food and incompetent staff? Where did that come from?
I was a waitress at Howard Johnson one summer during college. I was the worst waitress in the world. I was a disaster. I had a lot of fun with this book. I got even with the whole Howard Johnson experience.
Are Grandma Mazur and Rex the hamster going to live forever?
Yes, they are. When my kids were little they always had a hamster or two. They live about two years. But Rex is immortal. Good people and animals do not die in fun books.
If you were Stephanie, would you choose Morelli or Ranger?
That’s the good part. You don’t have to choose. You can have both of them. That’s the fantasy, right? It depends on how I wake up in the morning, how I feel during the day. I might lean more towards Ranger because he has cool cars and a better apartment.
But Morelli has a dog. There’s that. He’s a very good guy.
When it comes to mystery novels, who do you read?
When I started this series I read a lot of Robert B. Parker. I found him to be very inspiring. He wrote about characters who had honor and who knew right from wrong. I like Bob Crais. I like Michael Connelly.
But I don’t do a lot of reading anymore. I find it difficult to read when I’m writing and I’m always writing. … I can’t go to bed thinking about someone else’s story because then I wake up thinking about someone else’s story and not mine.
MARK MY WORDS: JANET EVANOVICH is at Immanuel Congregational Church, 10 Woodland St. in Hartford, on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. Admission is $40 and includes a signed copy of “Look Alive Twenty-Five.” marktainhouse.org.