Saturday, September 26, 2015

Plum Spooky - Beware the Pine Barrens in Jersey

Pros: I like Diesel, some funny stuff
Cons: "Er...what?" plot; I would have liked to see more of Wulf

The Bottom Line: This is one of those between-the-numbers novels, and for this one in particular, you can either take it or leave it.

If you aren't familiar with Stephanie Plum, you'd better go back and read the first book.  Or, if you don't want to do the entire series, you ought to at least go back and read the first between-the-numbers book so you at least know who Diesel is and get a better grasp of what his deal is.

In this book, you get to follow Stephanie around as she kind of follows Diesel around.  Diesel, meanwhile, is trying to follow a man named Wulf.  Wulf is working with Martin, one of Stephanie's skips, so it all works out.  Sort of.  Wulf and Martin are doing something weird in the woods.  Wulf is super dangerous, and the woods - the Jersey Pine Barrens - also happens to be where the Jersey Devil lives.  But he's not, right?

Actually, the Jersey Devil doesn't really do anything aside from an extraordinarily brief cameo appearance so don't read too much into that.  There's actually not a whole lot of plot.  A lot of trying to follow Wulf, not get killed, follow Martin, and get lost in the woods a few times in the process.  Diesel does his pop-in, pop-out thing, and in the end you'll close the book wondering what the heck Wulf's nefarious plan was anyhow.  Martin mentions it, but honestly, it sounded kind of stupid.  One of those, "Really?  Is that really what's going on?  Er, that's pretty lame."  And considering the way Wulf is described, it didn't really make much sense to me.

Overall, the book is amusing in typical Stephanie Plum fashion, though some people don't like the between-the-numbers books.  These deviate from the typical ridiculousness of the regular books and take things up just one more notch with elements of the fantastic.  Diesel and Wulf are "Unmentionables."  In short, they have weird powers normal humans don't have.  Personally, I don't mind the urban fantasy element because, let's face it, the regular books aren't exactly all that plausible as it is.  Besides, I like Diesel.  I really would have liked to see more of Wulf - including seeing him in action against Diesel.  Maybe that will happen in a future book.

So would I recommend it?  Eh.  Barely.  It scrapes by with three stars.  You don't need it as a stepping stone to get from one book to the next, so if you were inclined to skip it entirely, you'd be fine doing so.  But hey, it was funny watching Stephanie kick Martin in the gonads more than once, and oh, I forgot to mention the monkeys (that's right, more than one).  Carl the monkey makes a return appearance, and he's actually much more amusing this time around.


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