On Stephanie Plum

Laughing Her Way Out of Trouble

By Kyra Davis

As a general rule, rapists aren’t funny.

The same could be said of domestic violence, kidnapping, custody suits, torture, and murder…unless, of course, you’re talking about a Stephanie Plum novel. If that’s the case, then those things frequently become hysterical. It’s not that Janet Evanovich tries to make the act of rape itself funny, but her gift (and the gift she gives Stephanie) is that she can horrify you with the details of a violent crime in one paragraph (a newly discovered dismembered body, a vivid description of a particularly horrific assault) and have you rolling in the aisles in the next.

Yeah, I know, all this going back and forth between danger and humor doesn’t in and of itself make Stephanie unique. Heroes and heroines have been playing that tune since Errol Flynn started cracking jokes while wearing Robin Hood tights. Any one who has read J. R. R. Tolkien knows that his characters are always good for a laugh in between their frequent near-death experiences. And of course, thirty- and forty-somethings will recall that Magnum PI solved crime while wearing loud Hawaiian shirts and a wry smile (at least I think it was wry, it was hard to see under the eighties-style furry mustache). But the difference is that Magnum PI compartmentalized his life. There were times when he was out there chasing down bad guys, saving damsels in distress, and getting out of life or death situations in the nick of time. Then there were times when  …

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