Monday, February 05, 2007

Motor Mouth - Janet Evanovich



Motor Mouth
Janet Evanovich
HarperCollins

Mystery

Your reaction to MOTOR MOUTH will depend almost entirely on your tolerance for madcap antics. While the story is set in and around NASCAR, absolutely no previous knowledge is necessary. In this follow-up to METRO GIRL, Alexandra (Barney) Barnaby is working for the Stiller Racing Team, as a race spotter for driver Sam Hooker. The Stiller Racing Team has three cars, and fellow spotter “Gobbles” is clearly agitated about something to do with rival racing team Huevo Motor Sports. He’s not clear on exactly what’s bothering him about the other outfit, but things become clear fairly quickly.

Barney, an engineer by education, has her own suspicions that the Huevo cars are somehow getting help from illegal traction technology. She has no proof, though, since the cars are inspected after each race and passed. The night after the final race, won by a Huevo car, Barney and Hooker are getting ready to leave the track when Gobbles calls in a panic. He’s locked in the main Huevo hauler where he hid after overhearing something that could get him killed. Barney and Hooker manage to get Gobbles out of the hauler, but there’s a new problem in the form of a dead body wrapped in plastic. Even worse, it’s one of the Huevo brothers. Now there’s really only the option of trying to cover their tracks while staying ahead of the cops and the killer. One enormous problem: they left Beans, Hooker’s very large St. Bernard puppy, sleeping in the hauler when they dumped it in a parking lot.

What Hooker and Barney refer to as a dognapping, I refer to as criminal carelessness and hope that the killer who found Beans is more careful with him. Poor Beans. The mystery picks up quickly and is perfectly paced throughout the first two thirds of the book. Unfortunately, it flounders a bit during the last sections, relying a bit too heavily on zany hijinks for my personal taste. The characters seem a bit thin, but I didn’t read the first book in the series, so it’s possible I missed some initial development. The secondary characters are quite funny without being too over-the-top. While not up to early Stephanie Plum standards (and those standards are quite high) this is a fun, fast read.

Rating: 6 1/2
October 2006
ISBN# 0-06-058403-3 (hardcover)

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