TOP SECRET TWENTY ONE
Audiobook Purchased by blogger. No remuneration exchanged and all opinion presented here are my own except as noted.
Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.
To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.
Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret. JanetEvanovich.com
In this entry in the long-lived series featuring Stephanie Plum, I finally feel as if the world Stephanie lives in, stagnates in, might be changing a little. BUT, this feels a lot like my review from Wednesday on TAKEDOWN TWENTY and that speaks to the sameness and stagnation in these books.
As in Take Down Twenty which I reviewed on Wedneday, Stephanie is in an exclusive relationship with Morelli who uses the L word, says he likes coming home to her in the kitchen for dinner, but doesn’t seem intent on marrying her. Heck he doesn’t even seem intent on taking her out on a date. Let’s face it, when they aren’t living at his house because she is in danger or her house blew up, Morelli and Stephanie are comfortable booty calls for each other. They share a past, culture and traditions. Not that Stephanie seems like she wants to get married all that much either. But the expectation, is that eventually they’ll do the burg-thing: get married and have babies. But neither of them seem all that intent on getting married and hopefully Steph will realize that she shouldn’t be nearly giving in to temptation with Ranger if she is really committed to Joe, and that realization should come before the wedding.
I can’t remember in which of the many Stephanie Plum books they actually come close to being engaged. But there are a lot of reasons why they didn’t. I am not sure why, after 21 plus books she can’t figure it out but I sense she is getting close to it.
I think Morelli is beginning to cotton on to Stephanie’s interest in Ranger being a little too keen, but maybe he finds the relationship as comfortable as a pair of old shoes. But, I’m re-listening to bits and pieces of the story and when Stephanie gets back after a job for Ranger with a black eye, Morelli’s face goes from happy to heartburn. Not concern, not outrage – heartburn.
Who would you like to see Stephanie end up with, or do you want to keep them for yourself?
I’m just saying, it’s like that song by Beyonce:
Music video by Beyoncé performing Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 240,029. (C) 2008 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
Otherwise, Evanovich weaves the plots together well. There’s some really scary stuff that happens with Ranger, but the bounty hunting stuff doesn’t feel truly dangerous, more like laughable. And the events of each are seamless. Plus think about this, Ranger, Grandma Mazur and a shower.
It’s traditional in this series that someone demolishes at least one of Stephanie’s cars and/or her apartment. While it is tradition it’s not just getting old, it is old. Seriously.
The other “something old” is job as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinny. I think it just points to a total willingness to drift through life — a lack of ambition. But, you have to be pretty ambitious to track down the criminals she does and bring them in. And while she and Lula and Connie have been doing this for these 21 volumes they’ve learned a lot and have become decent detectives. Do they really need Vinny?
Move it along Janet: Give Stephanie, et al, something new. Anything: Grandma Bella dies, Steph’s parents move to Florida, Ranger proposes, Harry the Hammer gets rid of Vinny and puts Connie in charge. Or, tell a story from Lula’s POV. We just really need something to chew on, we need progress. I know I said this on Wednesday, but it remains true on Friday and one more book into the series. Where do you think Evanoc=vich could shake things up? What could she change?
Again, Lorelei King does a stellar job giving voice to Evanovich’s characters. I especially like Connie and Lula. Their crisply identifiable, regionally and age appropriate (to the extent possible) and the emotions are well played. Her narration has added hugely to my enjoyment of the three Stephanie Plum Audiobooks I have listened to.
This was the best of the series in a while, because it moved quickly and was filled with colorful characters who I hadn’t seen before. The familiar cast is also there and there’s the usual snarky repartee. But even more important than the pace, I felt movement in the characters’ lives. Something’s got to give.
Purchase links, excerpts and more can be found at Janet’s Website