Sunday, October 15, 2023

Review: Mrs. Plansky's Revenge by Spencer Quinn

Do I like books with older protagonists because I myself am getting older or do I like them because they are generally populated with quirky, fun, intelligent characters who are still concerned with living their best lives and looking forward to the future? Probably both, to be fair. I like old curmudgeons. I like flighty little old ladies. I like smart, curious oldsters who outwit younguns. I like 'em all. So I was definitely looking forward to Spencer Quinn's newest novel, Mrs. Plansky's Revenge, the start of a new series.

Loretta Plansky is a recent widow who, with her late husband, invented the Plansky Toaster Knife, an invention that left them quite well off. She plays a lot of tennis, even after her hip replacement, and takes care of her irascible 98 year old father, who lives in an assisted living home not far from her in Florida. She's the mother of two middle aged children and grandmother to two young adult grandchildren, none of whom perhaps appreciate her enough beyond her bank account. In fact, a late night call from her grandson asking her for money to get him out of a big jam starts off Mrs. Plansky's whole madcap adventure. The morning after the phone call, she discovers that her entire bank account has been wiped out. The FBI is less than encouraging about her ever getting her money back. But Mrs. Plansky won't accept this and after snooping into the FBI's information a bit herself, she hocks some jewelry and heads to Romania to track down the criminals who prey on the unsuspecting elderly and to get her money back. Alternating with Mrs. Plansky's perspective are chapters focused on the scammers themselves, in particular a teenager named Dinu, what drove him to this crime and how he and his buddy feel about it.

The characters are all entertaining and while the scammers are initially unsympathetic, they start to grow on the reader, while Mrs. Plansky's feisty, determined self is a treasure from the jump. Why her children and grandchildren don't appreciate her is the biggest mystery of the book (it's not really a mystery at all despite some marketing to the contrary). Mrs. Plansky's detective skills are impressive if completely unrealistic and the coincidences here abound. There are some unexpected twists and turns throughout and the novel is a fun, easy, and undemanding read.

This novel is one of the Women's National Book Association's Great Group Reads for 2023.

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