Stephanie Plum, New Jersey's colourful bounty hunter extraordinaire, is on the trail of Maxine Nowicki. But this time she's double-dipping. She's got her sights set on the usual payoff from her bond bailsman boss, Vinny, who wants Maxine corralled as an FTA on a car theft charge. But Stephanie's also been promised a $1000 under-the-counter payoff from Maxine's ex-boyfriend, Eddie Kuntz who says he wants to retrieve some potentially embarrassing love letters that might damage his macho reputation "with the chicks". The case ratchets up to new heights of raucous, raunchy comedy when Stephanie teams up with Sally Sweet, a hairy seven foot tall cross-dressing rock singer who's shacked up with a very jealous, very gay, very male Marilyn Monroe look-alike.
Four musketeers out on the prowl - Stephanie, Sally Sweet, Lula, the 200 pound black reformed prostitute with a heart of gold and a mouth of pure dirt plus Grandma Mazur - definitely make for some laugh out loud moments. But, for my money, this entry in the Stephanie Plum series didn't quite tickle my funny bone in the same way as the previous three novels. Evanovich's usual clever comedy and wit started to fall by the wayside and were increasingly replaced by Vaudevillian physical comedy and enormous helpings of vulgar trash talk designed to entertain by shock value.
While there was some definite warm-hearted and enjoyable movement forward in Stephanie's relationship with long-standing love interest, cop Joe Morelli (not to mention some pretty hot action in the boudoir, the kitchen, the hall and the shower among other locations), the formulaic approach to the plot line in her stories is also beginning to wear thin after only four novels. Stephanie's apparently harmless chases after low level FTAs that look like they're going to be easy-picking low hanging fruit always seem to coincidentally cross paths and mesh with Morelli's much more complex cases. This time around is no different. Morelli's hooked up with the Feds chasing counterfeiters and money launderers and it isn't long before Stephanie finds herself involved in Morelli's case and up to her neck in mayhem, murder and mutilation.
That kind of coincidence might work once or twice but to repeat it over and over again verges on silliness. Even for a series like Stephanie Plum that is clearly pure parody, it wears thin.
For new readers, "Four to Score" probably is worthy of four stars as a stand-alone entertaining comedic parody of the typical PI novels and more serious mysteries out there. But for continuing fans, "Four to Score" is getting tired and has probably dropped to a somewhat lower three star rating. I'll still read "High Five", the next in the series, but if it's a repeat performance of "Four to Score" that will put paid to Stephanie Plum for me.