On Stephanie Plum

The Gun in the Cookie Jar

A Non-Violent Approach to Fugitive Apprehension
By Brenda Scott Royce

LULA: What’s the plan? We gonna just bust in like gangsta bounty hunters and kick his ass?

STEPHANIE: Have we ever done that?

LULA: Don’t mean we can’t.

Twelve Sharp (11)

Stephanie Plum is not the world’s best bounty hunter. And she’s not the worst. Or so Janet Evanovich tells the reader at the outset of nearly every installment of the Stephanie Plum mystery series.

Unlike the rough-and-tumble, rifle-toting bounty hunter of Western flicks, Stephanie is rarely armed, preferring to keep her gun–a little .38 Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special–at home in her cookie jar. Her stun gun tends to malfunction at critical moments, and her pepper spray is invariably lost amidst the clutter in her purse. When all else fails, she’s been known to blast a bad guy with hair spray.

While stereotypical bounty hunters bust through doors with guns drawn and muscles flexed, Stephanie gets winded chasing after bad guys–her lack of physical prowess owing to an aversion to exercise and a fondness for pastry products. Admittedly “pretty wimpy when it comes to actual butt-kicking” (Seven Up 6), she’s not buff enough to single-handedly subdue most fugitives–unless they’re drunk or disoriented, and even then something often goes awry. She flies by the seat of her pants, often not piecing together the puzzle until after she has stumbled into the villain’s lair.

Plum is the first to admit her shortcomings. She likens herself to Elmer Fudd and Lucy Ricardo, and calls herself and pseudo-partner Lula “the  …

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