Janet Evanovich’s Plum Lucky is another “between-the-numbers” book in the Stephanie Plum series. Before you stop reading these comments be aware they will not end up where you think.

The “between-the-numbers” books seemed to have started out as a publisher’s idea of generating extra revenue and indulging stories that are a little on the sillier side. So far we have had Santa Claus, Cupid and Leprechaun look-alikes appear in the three books.

Now I am not protesting the silly use of these characters. They are grounded in reality, somewhat, so I am not real upset with the clash of genres. What I am more concerned with is the world the modern detective style novel is set.

I believe it was Eugene Peterson who commented that many pastors read detective fiction because in a world of greys it is nice to have black and whites like good guys and bad guys. And then at the end of the day for the bad guys to get caught and the good guys to win. I am starting to get concerned that many pastors are going to read detective novels of this sort. The reason is that more and more “detective” novels are focussing on the marginalised of society. What I am thinking of is the characters who are taking drugs, laundering money, visiting prostitutes or even being one. I have no question that these people exist. I lived long enough in New York to meet some. What I am concerned with is thinking these are all the problems of life and that these are the norm.

You see how long does it take a young man reading novels about prostitutes (see Tara Moss’s Fetish for example) make him think this is acceptable practice? In Evanovich’s novel Lula, a regular character, is a former prostitute. In the later books there is no mention that she was very abused at the end of the first book. She is just made out to be a fun character with a very poor dress sense. In setting these novels in the “real world” the normal world is changed.

Two different blogs I read have recently posted about meeting people’s needs where they are. This is not usually detectives but housewives (see Simon Holt Carey’s blog) and businesspeople (see Richard Mouw’s blog). We need to give answers to hurting people as well as the marginalised. We need to see the world we live in as needy and needing the light and salt of Christ whether this is city, suburbs, “normal people” or the marginalised.

I think Plum Lucky is a fun read. It is fluff and it is meant to be. Yet for once this piece of fluff has tickled my nose of discontent and made me think of far more than I expected.

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