New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.
The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory. . . .
There are certain authors that I turn to when I need a particularly style of writing. When I want a classic thriller, I turn to Agatha Christie. When I want a nostalgic read, I turn to the Anne of Green Gables series. When I want a fun and light mystery that will leave me snorting with laughter on the subway, Janet Evanovich is my go-to-girl. Over the course of eighteen books (plus this one), she has created a world filled with an accident-prone bounty hunter (seriously, how does this woman continue to get insurance?), larger-than-life former hookers, quirky parents and grandparents, hot cops and even hotter (albeit more mysterious) special forces agents – in short, a great world to visit.
I think it’s safe to say that Evanovich’s Plum novels are not “deep” reads. Believe me when I say that this most definitely not a bad thing – her characters are light and easy to know, the mysteries are fairly easy to solve, the humour is almost slapstick and the romantic tension between Stephanie and her two guys is pretty great. Mixed together, these are the perfect vacation reads – the kind you close with a happy sigh when you’re done before heading off to rejoin that incredible-yet-troubled contender for the next big literature prize. There’s a definite formula to her books, and for the most part, it works very well. I look forward to each instalment of this series, precisely because I know what I’m getting into, and I know that I’ll laugh out loud at least a dozen times while reading the book.
The Stephanie Plum series have a great mix of snark and style in them that keeps the dialogue snappy and sometimes outright hilarious. Some of the best exchanges seem to take place between Stephanie, Lulu and the various skips that Steph is sent to track down. The scene with Stephanie and Lulu at the nude beach is priceless, as are pretty much all the scenes with the Tiki (don’t ask – just read). Be warned, however, that there are some darker elements to this book, with some unusually graphic (for the series) scenes in the Clinic that change the tone.
However, we are into book nineteen of the series, and I’m finding myself wanting a little more from the characters. I want Stephanie to get through a book without blowing up her car (it happens twice in this one). I’d love for Grandma Mazur to find a guy for herself (a living one, not one of the regulars from the funeral home). I’d like to see Stephanie actually feel good about what she does for a living because she can be good at it, and finally (warning: controversial here), I’d like for her to actually pick one of the guys and run with it. In this book, Morelli broaches the idea of marriage, but neither one of them seems to be too sold on the idea. It’s because I enjoy this series so much that I want something more from it than just another formula – I love reading about these people, and I want to read something new about them and to see how they will react. This series has the potential to run on for a while, but only if there’s a game-changer planned for the next book. Heck, Jim Butcher managed to kill off Harry Dresden (and bring him back) and his series is even stronger than before. I liked that the Plum series went a bit dark this time, and could only wish that it had continued.
So … should you read this book? If you are a Stephanie Plum fan, then absolutely. It has all the usual elements of a Stephanie Plum novel, and it will most definitely make you laugh. New to the series? Start from the beginning – you won’t necessarily get some of the in-jokes that are built into this one, but give yourself time. Oh, and for the record: Team Ranger. Always.
This book was provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review. It can be purchased from Indigo, Amazon and your friendly neighbourhood indie bookseller ISBN: 9780345527745, 320 pages.