Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich (2018)

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I hate to admit it, but Stephanie Plum is showing her age. Twenty-four years* after her debut in Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money, not much has changed for our well-meaning but inept bounty hunter. She still lives paycheck to paycheck, she still bungles most of the jobs she takes on, and she still in relationships with two men (who show exquisite patience in her stringing them both along.) That said, I did read Twenty-five \all the way through and found a few things to chuckle about along the way and I still root for Stephanie and Lula to get it right this time: solve the case, catch the bad guys, and make the money.

Installment twenty-five finds Stephanie the unwilling manager of a deli that has been the scene of three mysterious disappearances. She agrees to both work in the deli and act as bait for whoever is kidnapping employees. When she is not hoping to get snatched by a lunatic, she and her side-kick Lula are searching for criminals who have skipped out on court appearances…always poorly and mostly unsuccessfully.

In Twenty-Five, Stephanie seems to be fatigued to still be living this dead-end life. She longs, wistfully, for days that do not involve criminals or dead bodies. More so than in past books in this series, Stephanie’s lethargy and unhappiness clearly resonate.

Reading this book, I cannot help but feel that it is time for Evanovich to change the formula of the series and for Stephanie to change the formula of her life. It would be invigorating for our heroine to chose to do her job better. Why not have Steph hit the gym, get buff, and start kicking ass on her own? Why not have her learn to take down the bad guys without relying on men to do it for her?

At the very least, it seems time for our heroine to be bold: chose a new job, pick a man, and make some permanent decisions that allow the series to grow and change. I doubt she can survive another stale retelling of essentially the same story.

*Note to readers: Stephanie has not aged twenty-four years in the story-line, but rather closer to ten years.


Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (2009)

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Stephanie Plum series #14.5 (an in between the novels, novel)

Just in time for Halloween, I packed my battered paperback copy of Plum Spooky to read on vacation. I am a unabashed fan of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels: even though the are anti-intellectual, irreverent, and often down-right ridiculous, I cannot resist reading (and re-reading) them. They are always great fun!

In Plum Spooky, the largely inept bounty hunter and trouble-magnet Stephanie Plum is back for more hilarious attempts at bringing Trenton, New Jersey’s low-rent criminals to justice. This Halloween, however, things are more complicated than usual. Along with her usual side-kicks — a prostitute turned file clerk, an Army Ranger turned security expert, and her sassy grandma — this time Stephanie is paired up with Diesel, a mysterious (and possibly magical) man who needs her help to find out exactly what is happening in the Jersey Pine Barrens. Oh, Stephanie and Diesel bring a mischievous monkey along with him, just to keep things interesting.

Reluctant to get involved in a wackier-than-usual situation, Stephanie finds that she cannot resist helping solve this extra spooky mystery. It doesn’t hurt the Diesel is super sexy and definitely interested in Stephanie. The rag-tag team of misfits heads into the autumn woods determined to solve whether the Pine Barrens really are haunted once and for all…and hilarity ensues.


Hardcore Twenty Four by Janet Evanovich (2017)

Two other books in the Stephanie Plum series have been reviewed on this site. To find them, click on the “Janet Evanovich” tag on the main page.

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Stephanie Plum, the inept but lovable bounty hunter, is back to solve yet another mystery with her unique brand of mediocre sleuthing. Hardcore Twenty-Four opens with Stephanie in her usual predicaments: running low on cash, juggling feelings for two men, and partnered with wildly unpredictable colleague who hinders her work as a bounty hunter about as much as she helps.

Trenton New Jersey is abuzz with gossip about a series of bizarre crimes: someone has been breaking into funeral homes and decapitating bodies awaiting burial. If that was not creepy enough, the police begin to discover other bodies all over town: some headless, some with their heads left on but their brains gone. The predominant theory:  a zombie horde has invaded Trenton.

When she is asked to track down a young man who blew up a building trying to cook meth (and missed his court dates), Stephanie finds herself drawn into the zombie mystery. While she tracks down her criminal, she keeps having run in’s with people who very well could be zombies — or at least people who look like the living dead. Rather than leave it to the police to solve the mystery, Stephanie feels compelled to keep tracking the so-called “zombies,” certain that if she can find her missing skip, she can get to the bottom of the strange string of crimes upsetting the city.

While Stephanie does get to the bottom of the things, she does so in her signature way: with plenty car crashes, explosions, gun fights, with help from all manner of crazy side-kicks. Hardcore Twenty-Four does not add anything new to the Stephanie Plum series, but it does not disappoint loyal fans either.


Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich (2016)

Book #23 in the Stephanie Plum series (Book #22 reviewed here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-3x )


Everyone’s favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, is back for yet another ridiculous, hilarious, wholly improbable but none-the-less enjoyable caper. She has brought along her entire rag-tag team of companions — including but not limited to: Lulu, Connie, Grandma Mazur, Randy Briggs, Joe Morelli (yum!), and Ranger (yum! yum!) — along as she tries to round up skips and as she goes undercover in order to solve a string of murders.

In this book, Stephanie is helping Ranger piece together a bizarre series of crimes plaguing a local ice cream factory and its employees, including two grisly murders. Going under cover on the factory line, on the loading dock, and even as a clown in the ice cream truck; Stephanie does her best to solve the mystery and (as always) manages to do so in a wild, round-a-bout way.

I have to admit that I whole-heartedly enjoy this series and, even after twenty-three books, I still am happy to send a rainy evening reading about Stephanie and her outrageous exploits. While other series I have been devoted to have fizzled (see my latest review of JD Robb’s latest Eve Dallas book http://wp.me/p6N6mT-19D ) this one remains strong. The reason for this, I believe, that it is Evanovich’s humor and her commitment to absolutely ludicrous story-lines that make no attempt to be realistic. It does not hurt that Stephanie is still, after all these years, engaged in steamy relationships with both Morelli and Ranger.

A series that is well-worth reading, if just for a quick, funny break from the craziness of the holidays. Enjoy!

Tricky Twenty Two by Janet Evanovich (2015)

A Stephanie Plum Novel

I have to begin this post with a confession: I love Stephanie Plum and I giddily picked up her most recent caper as soon as it came out this fall. Are these books silly and at times nonsensical? Sure. Are they also hysterical and a ton of fun to read? Absolutely.

This book is the twenty-second adventure for Stephanie Plum and her largely incompetent set of companions including; Lula, Connie, Ranger, Joe and Grandma Mazur. Since her very first day on the job as a bounty hunter, Stephanie has been plagued by bad luck and poor decisions and this installment is no exception. To further complicate her unstable professional life, she remains firmly ensconced in a love triangle that has her unable to commit to the two men she loves, perhaps because she is unable to do her job without them both.

Twenty Two finds Stephanie searching for a prank-pulling frat boy who evades her attempts at capture and who ultimately draws her into a triple-homicide investigation. Although not at all qualified, she finds herself attempting to solve the murders which she is sure are all connected despite police being unable to find any strong evidence to link them. Throughout the story Stephanie finds herself just one step behind both her “skips” and a lunatic who has much larger crimes in mind. Through a series of good hunches, madcap chases, and near misses Stephanie closes in on the murder suspect and uncovers a plot much more sinister than college boy jokes, one that just might involve biological terrorism.

Always worth a read, Janet Evanovich delivers us another light-hearted, funny romp that, although it leaves her a bit ragged, finds Stephanie Plum Bounty Hunter on top of her game once again.