54. Smokin' Seventeen, by Janet Evanovich. The last book was a bit disappointing but this one made up for it. Poor Stephanie. She's still trying to choose between Morelli and Ranger- and now her friends and family try to force her hand. Actually, her family is trying to hook her up with a third party- a former football star who is a great cook. The bail bonds company is operating as best as it can from Mooner's van, and the business is losing money. So Stephanie is sent out to bring in the usual oddballs who have failed to appear in court. My favorite is the generally toothless old man who is convinced he is a vampire. But what Stephanie Plum novel would be complete without another lost car (a great line from Ranger, about him writing in her destroying his cars as entertainment), and a threat to her life? A very funny read.
55. Guys and Dolls, by Damon Runyon. This was actually a collection from three short story collections: Guys and Dolls, Blue Plate Special and Money From Home. Runyon's stories inspired (among other things) the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. This collection contains numerous short stories on such colorful characters like Dave the Dude, Rusty Charlie, Benny Southstreet, The Brain, Good Time Charley, Nathan Detroit, Big Jule and many others. Most of the stories are darkly humorous (and more than a few have a touch of O. Henry irony). The language and rhythm takes some getting used to; a little Runyon-ese goes a long way. Still, Runyon captures the heart and eccentricity of his world very well, and it was interesting to read some of the stories that inspired the musical. There was one story, Madame La Gimp, I could see being turned into a short play (actually, I heard this story was the basis for a movie, Lady for a Day).
Currently reading: Gods and Soldiers, edited by Rob Spillman