This post is a continuation of my mission to document the timeline and recurring motifs in the Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. To see more posts on the topic, click here.
Two for the Dough is, as the title suggests, the second novel in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It was published January 10th, 1996.
As with most books in the series, the action takes place over approximately a week and a half. In this case, based on the number of times it’s referenced that Stephanie goes to sleep for the night, the action starts in the evening on Day 1 and ends on Day 11. Only one of those days is referenced specifically with a day of the week: Day 9 is stated as being a Sunday. Given this, the story appears to begin on a Saturday night, and ends on a Tuesday.
During the first day of action, the book explicitly states that it takes place in “late October”, then later during the action on Day 4 it explicitly states that it’s “November”. So somehow Stephanie managed to completely not notice that Hallowe’en had passed.
The main mystery:
Where is Kenny Mancuso? Who shot Moogey Bues? And who stole 24 caskets from Spiro Stiva’s stepfather’s mortuary? And since all three men were old highschool friends, are all these crimes related?
- Kenny Mancuso (shot his friend Moogey Bues in the knee)
- Eula Rothridge (a bag lady who steals undies)
- Eugene Petras (spousal batterment)
Cast of (recurring) characters:
- Bond agency:
- Vinnie (has a Grandma Bella);
- Connie (has a mob Uncle Jimmy);
- Ranger, who still works for Vinnie and helps Stephanie with apprehensions;
- Lula, who is newly hired as a file clerk after a bunch of other file clerks quit due to Vinnie sexually harassing them — Lula is cited as being a filing machine and assists Stephanie when all her work is done;
- there is also mention of another bounty hunter: Mo Barnes
- Stephanie’s family:
- Mom & Dad
- Dad’s name is listed as Frank, and he actually says a few sentences other than just grunting
- Grandma Mazur (who is cited as being 72 years old)
- sister Valerie and her two kids are mentioned
- plus Rex the hamster
- Mom & Dad
“Grandma Mazur was standing in the hall. She lived with my parents now that Grandpa Mazur was scarfing down his normal two-eggs-and-a-half-pound-of-bacon breakfast in the hereafter.”
- Other recurring characters:
- love interest: Joe Morelli (who is Kenny Mancuso’s cousin)
- cop and friend: Eddie Gazarra
- best friend: Mary Lou Molnar (who actually makes an appearance and goes shopping with Stephanie)
- arch-nemesis: Joyce Barnhardt
- building’s superintendent: Dillon Ruddick
- neighbours mentioned: Mrs. Delgado upstairs, Mr Wolesky across the hall, Mrs Ciak next door, Mrs Bestler who roams the halls, plus Mrs Karwatt and Mickey and Francine Boyd
- Constantine and Spiro Stiva from Stiva’s Mortuary
Team Morelli/Team Ranger:
In this book, Stephanie’s only love interest is Joe Morelli. They’re not dating, but there’s some sexual tension between them and they’re close to having sex towards the end of the book. Joe also shows up for dinners at Stephanie’s parents’ house, and he’s basically treated like a boyfriend by Stephanie’s family. Joe and Stephanie work very closely on this case.
On the other hand, Ranger is not a love interest at all, and in fact he figures very little into the story — he’s there to help out a bit at the beginning but then doesn’t make any further appearances.
“Ranger and I had a sort of loose partnership. Ranger was a genuine, cool-ass, numero-uno bounty hunter. I asked him to help me because I was still learning the trade and needed all the help I could get. His participation was in the ballpark of a pity fuck.”
The book starts with Stephanie driving a Jeep Wrangler that she bought off the delivery guy for Pino’s Pizzeria (who makes a very brief appearance in One for the Money).
Eventually, the Jeep gets stolen and it is at this point that we get introduced to Big Blue, which Grandma Mazur inherited from Uncle Sandor after he “had gone into a nursing home last month, at the age of eighty-four”.
“It was a 1953 powder blue Buick with shiny white top, whitewall tires big enough to fit a backhoe, and gleaming chrome portholes. It was the same size and shape as a beluga whale and probably got six miles to the gallon on a good day.”
None of the cars Stephanie owns get wrecked in this book (unlike in future books), but Stephanie is the cause of major car problems that befall Morelli.
Also notable is the fact that Ranger is described as driving a black Mercedes sports car or a black Ford Bronco — in future books he’s almost always driving Porche’s.
Although I didn’t find this book to be as good as One for the Money, it was nonetheless a nice sequel that shows Stephanie becoming a little bit more comfortable in her role as bounty hunter. She carries her gun; she’s upset about being bugged by Morelli; she goes jogging! However, it’s lacking in the things that the series later came to be best known as: the love triangles, the car deaths, and to some extent the slapstick humour.