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One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) (Stephanie Plum Novels) Mass Market Paperback – June, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,973 customer reviews
Book 1 of 21 in the Stephanie Plum Series

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER ONE

THERE ARE SOME MEN who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me -- not forever, but periodically.

Morelli and I were both born and raised in a blue-collar chunk of Trenton called the burg. Houses were attached and narrow. Yards were small. Cars were American. The people were mostly Italian descent, with enough Hungarians and Germans thrown into offset inbreeding. It was a good place to buy calzone or play the numbers. And. if you had to live in Trenton anyway, it was an okay place to raise a family.

When I was a kid I didn't ordinarily play with Joseph Morelli. He lived two blocks over and was two years older. "Stay away from those Morelli boys," my mother had warned me. "They're wild. I hear stories about the things they do to girls when they get them alone."

"What kind of things?" I'd eagerly asked.

"You don't want to know," my mother had answered. "Terrible things. Things that aren't nice."

From that point on, I viewed Joseph Morelli with a combination of terror and prurient curiosity that bordered on awe. Two weeks later, at the age of six, with quaking knees and a squishy stomach, I followed Morelli into his father's garage on the promise of learning a new game.

The Morelli garage hunkered detached and snubbed at the edge of their lot. It was a sorry affair, lit by a single shaft of light filtering through a grime-coated window. Its air was stagnant, smelling of corner must, discarded tires, and jugs of used motor oil. Never destined to house the Morelli cars, the garage served other purposes. Old man Morelli used the garage to take his belt to his sons, his sons used the garage to take their hands to themselves, and Joseph Morelli took me, Stephanie Plum, to the garage to play train.

"What's the name of this game?" I'd asked Joseph Morelli.

"Choo-choo," he'd said, down on his hands and knees, crawling between my legs, his head trapped under my short pink skirt. "You're the tunnel, and I'm the train."

I suppose this tells you something about my personality. That I'm not especially good at taking advice. Or that I was born with an overload of curiosity. Or maybe it's about rebellion or boredom or fate. At any rate, it was a one-shot deal and darn disappointing, since I'd only gotten to be the tunnel, and I'd really wanted to be the train.

Ten years later, Joe Morelli was still living two blocks over. He'd grown up big and bad, with eyes like black fire one minute and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate the next. He had an eagle tattooed on his chest, a tight-assed, narrow-hipped swagger, and a reputation for having fast hands and clever fingers.

My best friend, Mary Lou Molnar, said she heard Morelli had a tongue like a lizard.

"Holy cow," I'd answered, "what's that supposed to mean?"

"Just don't let him get you alone or you'll find out. Once he gets you alone...that's it. You're done for."

I hadn't seen much of Morelli since the train episode. I supposed he'd enlarged his repertoire of sexual exploitations. I opened my eyes wide and leaned closer to Mary Lou, hoping for the worst. "You aren't taking about rape, are you?"

"I'm talking about lust! If he wants you, you're doomed. The guy is irresistible." Aside from being fingered at the age of six by you-know-who, I was untouched. I was saving myself for marriage, or at least for college. "I'm a virgin," I said, as if this was news. "I'm sure he doesn't mess with virgins."

"He specializes in virgins! The brush of his fingertips turns virgins into slobbering mush."

Two weeks later, Joe Morelli came into the bakery where I worked every day after school, Tasty Pastry, on Hamilton. He bought a chocolate-chip cannoli, told me he'd joined the navy, and charmed the pants off of me four minutes after closing, on the floor of Tasty Pastry, behind the case filled with chocolate eclairs.

The next time I saw him, I was three years older. I was on my way to the mall, driving my father's Buick when I spotted Morelli standing in front of Giovichinni"s Meat Market. I gunned the big V-8 engine, jumped the curb, and clipped Morelli from behind, bouncing him off the front right fender. I stopped the car and got out to asses the damage. "Anything broken?"

He was sprawled on the pavement, looking up my skirt. "My leg."

"Good," I said. Then I turned on my heel, got into the Buick, and drove to the mall.

I attribute the incident to temporary insanity, and in my own defense, I'd like to say I haven't run over anyone since.

Copyright © 1994 by Evanovich, Inc.
--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

First novels this funny and self-assured come along rarely; dialogue this astute and raunchy is equally unusual. The gutsy heroine introduced here is Stephanie Plum of Trenton, N.J., a recently laid-off lingerie buyer who has no job, no car and no furniture. She does have a hamster, a deranged grandmother, two caring parents and several pairs of biking shorts and sports bras. Finding work with her cousin Vinnie, she becomes a bond hunter and scrounges money enough to buy a gun, a Chevy Nova and some Mace. Her first assignment is to locate a cop accused of murder. Joe Morelli grew up in Stephanie's neighborhood. Possessed of legendary charm, he relieved Stephanie of her virginity when she was 16 (she later ran over him with a car). In her search, Stephanie catches her prey, loses him and grills a psychotic prizefighter, the employer of the man Morelli shot. She steals Morelli's car and then installs an alarm so he can't steal it back. Resourceful and tough, Stephanie has less difficulty finding her man than deciding what she wants to do with him once she's got him. While the link between the fighter and the cop isn't clear until too late in the plot, Evanovich's debut is a delightful romp and Stephanie flaunts a rough-edged appeal. Mystery Guild alternate; author tour; film rights optioned to Tri-Star.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Stephanie Plum Novels
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061009059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061009051
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,973 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,964,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a book. This was hilariously funny. Stephanie Plum is from NJ and having some money problems. Sold her furniture, her car has gotten repo and next she will be needing a place to live if she doesn't come up with an idea fast. She goes to see her cousin Vinnie ( Bail bondsman ) looking for a job. The job had just been filled but the bounty hunter he used was having surgery. Stephanie, newly employed as bounty hunter. After all you get 10% and she would get 10k for bringing Joe Morelli in. Joe is a former cop and is running from Murder One. Stephaine and Joe do go back to growing up. This was a great book! Very funny, Ms. Evanovich really has a gift for writing a story in a very refreshing way! The " who done it " I couldn't tell until it happened. The pages just kept turning as the characters were very real, and enjoyable! I can't wait to read the next one!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephanie Plum has been out of work for months. With her savings gone and her car repossessed, she's desperate enough to ask her cousin Vinnie for a job. But the filing job she went in for has been filled, so she decides to try her hand at bounty hunting. After all, how hard can it be?
Turns out to be plenty hard. After all, most of the criminals won't come when asked politely. And she did target Joe Morelli, a cop on the run trying to prove he was framed. Still, that huge paycheck and a shared past keep her focused on Morelli. But when boxer Benito Ramirez starts dogging her trail, she begins to suspect she's in over her head. Can she survive long enough to bring Morelli in?
I've been hearing lots about these books, but hadn't had a chance to try one yet. Wish I hadn't waited so long. The writing style is engaging and the pace fast. I had a hard time putting the book down and couldn't stop thinking about it when I did. When the book ended, I started looking around for the second to see what would happen next to the main characters.
It's easy to see why this series is so popular. The fun characters and storyline make for quick, light reading. I'm looking forward to catching up on the seven books I haven't read yet and hope to enjoy visits with these characters for many years to come.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Let's face it - the basic premise of this book is so whacked that you just gotta laugh before you even start reading it! Stephanie Plum, a down on her luck and out of work lingerie buyer cons her cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a job as a "recovery agent", a skip tracer, a bounty hunter. She's brash, vulgar, feminine, cute, sexy, tarty, sassy, funny and, on top it of it all, she's got balls made of brass. She actually believes she's qualified to chase down an old high school acquaintance, Joe Morelli, now a hardened career cop charged with murder and skipping bail.

The dialogue is perfect - smack dab in the centre of a triangle cornered by New York police procedural, hammed up sit-com and cute romance! Yeah, yeah, yeah ... really hard to believe, I know! But Evanovich pulls it off, doles out a generous helping of laugh out loud writing and manages to keep the whole book light enough to polish off at a single sitting! Stephanie's grandmother is completely off the wall and positively hilarious.

Now if only she could have figured out a way to resolve the mystery part of the plot without resorting to the painfully trite cliché of the gloating criminal holding the heroine at gunpoint explaining how nasty he intends to be in intricate, precise detail! And, puhleeeze ... our hero, Morelli, just HAPPENED to catch the whole conversation on tape which of course exonerates him completely from the murder charge.

Full marks for the fluff - humour, romance, characterization, banter, dialogue! Failing grade on plot! OK, we'll call it 3-stars and let everybody decide for themselves whether they want to take on the second book in the series. I'm going to give "Two for the Dough" a read and see how it goes!

Paul Weiss
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I have read all of the Stephanie Plum series and can not wait until the next one comes out. These books are a definate joy for anyone who has ever had a bad day go worse. When reading these books I try to be alone, not only to be undisturbed but also because I laugh so loud I disturb others. At a book signing I learned Janet is as funny in person as in her books, she comes by the humor naturally. Stephanie always finds herself in situtations due to her lack of a better career and her stuborn personality that will not allow her to listen to others advice. Stephanie is a very real character that is very easy to identify with even if you don't live life as close to the edge as she does. The stories have it all from danger, humor, sexuality, and moves so well that you carry it around hoping to find a few minutes to read just a little bit more. This whole book keeps you coming back for more with great characters that are humorous and outrageous, but could easily be someone you already know. One of my favorite characters is the grandmother that gets into just about as much trouble as Stephanie. Read this first one and I guarantee you will be back for the rest of the series.
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