Stephanie Plum #20
by Janet Evanovich
Hardcover/E-Book November 19, 2013 320 Pages
Paperback June 17, 2014 352 Pages
Audiobook August 26, 2014
Narrator: Lorelei King Run Time 6:12
Library Audiobook Download. No remuneration was exchanged and, unless otherwise noted, all opinions presented herein are my own.
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.
It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.
With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.
Every Stephanie Plum book I read has me barking and snorting with laughter. This one also had me worried that Grandma Mazur, at least, might get her self killed. I think Janet could make even that funny. There is a pretty scary, real-danger-love-Ranger, come-to-Jesus scene involving concrete blocks and a river. There’s even a little humor there.
I was troubled about two things in this story:
Joe Morelli is a cop whose uncle is a mob boss who he knows killed someone. Why isn’t he doing something about it? Instead, Stephanie is risking her life and Grandma Mazur gets caught in the middle. If I were Stephanie, (Weel, yes, I am Stephanie, just not that Stephanie!) Ranger would be looking like a better option here — even with his commitment phobia. After all, Joe isn’t getting down on one knee, or keeping her safe from his family’s “family” ties.
Which brings me to the second issue:
I have been feeling that it’s time to fish or cut bait with the love triangle in this series. It’s beginning to feel like “Lost: The New Jersey Edition.”
Other, really funny things happen in this story that made me feel that Stephanie might make some life changes soon. More than ever, she seems to be thinking about a career change. The books focus on Stephanie’s job, her relationships with Ranger and Morelli, and her family. The job part is evolving into more into security and detective. I wonder if Evanovich could pull off giving Stephanie a career without Vinny and the bail bonding. After all she could become a detective and Lula and Connie could work for her. But, at least she is thinking about getting a new job. Finally! After all, this was supposed to be very temporary, and the economy is not so bad that she couldn’t find something else in 20 books.
I mentioned before how I thought something has got to happen on the relationship front. There is some very, very serious backsliding occuring and it bothers me. It makes Stephanie seem less than honest to keep being tempted by Ranger but telling Morelli she loves him. In each book she is seriously tempted. I feel it has gone on long enough; by having the relationship issue be so monogamous in body but not in mind, I feel it makes Stephanie a less sympathetic character. And, that bothers me because it has always been that “down on her luck, but loyal and full of pluck, Jersey girl next door” set of qualities that made Stephanie appealing.
Frankly, I find Joe a little boring. He’s handsome, and slow-burner sexy, but he is also comfortable, a known quantity and very much “the burg.” Ranger is exotic, and while he may talk about being a commitment-phobe he always comes through for her with whatever she needs.
If Evanovich plans to keep the series going she has to do something different (but not TOO different) to keep it fresh. I don’t believe the relationship stuff, going to wakes/viewings, and having people trying to kill her, or having the same icky-type people trying to skip bond is going to work indefinitely — how many naked, smelly skips can she stick in her car? How many guys can get tossed on the street for her to find?
The addition of a stray giraffe roaming the streets of Trenton is an amusing distraction; perhaps he is supposed to represent the degree to which Trenton’s residents will believe what they are told they see, versus what they see.
Lorelei King’s narration is really brilliant with great continuity in voices and good male and female characters of all ages. It’s on of the most well-voiced group of books I have heard (I read the first 18 and have listened to 19, 20 1nd 21).
On the other hand, I did laugh often throughout; and a lot of that has to do with Lorelei King’s delivery and timing; at leas as much as the writing and plot.
Friday, I look at the next book, TOP SECRET TWENTY ONE which I downloaded almost immediately after I finished this one. Even though I get frustrated with the lack of progress, I still want more!
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