“Takedown Twenty” is yet another Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter novel and like all the other novels, there are the same lovable characters doing a lot of ridiculous stuff. I honestly wouldn’t mind if Janet Evanovich did a spin-off series following Lula or Ranger. That would be quite entertaining. Not that I don’t love Stephanie Plum, but she does seem to follow the same pattern of not knowing what to do, having her cars break down and/or blow up, being indecisive about Morielli vs. Ranger, and so on and so on. So maybe following some of the supporting characters would be a nice change of pace.
Another thing that Stephanie does on a fairly consistent basis is claim that she is going to leave the bounty hunter business and find a normal job. In “Takedown Twenty” she is offered a job as a butcher a couple of times. Even though ‘pre-cooked’ meat is not something that Stephanie can usually handle, she does consider the offer. At least her chances of being shot and having her car blow up would be strongly decreased. The guy offering her the job is a bit intense though, “‘It’s overwhelming, right?’ Randy said. ‘Like a religious experience. Sometimes I have dreams about pigs getting roasted.’” (Takedown Twenty, pg 228).
“Takedown Twenty” involves Stephanie hunting down a complicated criminal – Uncle Sunny – who is not only mixed up in a whole lot of bad stuff, but he is Moriell’s godfather and related to a lot of people in Stephanie’s hometown. So no one wants to help her. In addition to trying to catch Uncle Sunny, Stephanie keeps seeing a giraffe running around. (A mystery that goes unanswered until the very end). But with her ever-faithful, ex-ho, spandex-wearing sidekick Lula, they know they can do anything they set their mind to. After a break for lunch first that is. Lula is hilarious, I am glad that Evanovich made her a recurring character. “‘If that’s what you want, then that’s what we’ll do, but you’re never gonna sell movie rights that way.’ ‘This isn’t a movie.’ ‘You got that right. If this was a movie I’d have a rocket launcher.’” (Takedown Twenty, pg 254). True Lula, very true.
On the one hand, the Stephanie Plum books are getting predictable, but on the other hand, they are kind of like comfort food. I enjoy the ridiculousness of these books. I think Evanovich is great at incorporating a high level of comedy into her novels and that is part of what makes them so successful. (That and the sexual tension between Stephanie and Morielli and Stephanie and Ranger). For example, “I checked out the wine. Screw cap. The greatest invention since fire.” (Takedown Twenty, pg 79). Personally, I think screw caps are ingenious, so this quote rang true for me.
In addition to attempting to hunt down Uncle Sunny, Stephanie is recruited by Ranger to help him unofficially investigate a series of murders where older women have been strangled and tossed in dumpsters. This meant that Ranger was hanging out with Stephanie a lot, which is always entertaining. I think it is endearing how his reaction to almost anything that she does is “Babe”. Ranger is a health nut, so when he sat down to share a less than healthy meal with Stephanie she said, “‘What about the healthy food thing? Wouldn’t you rather have a salad? Tree bark? A chunk of salmon?’ ‘I didn’t see tree bark on the menu.’” (Takedown Twenty, pg 148). Just the kind of humor that I enjoy.
While investigating the dumpster murders for Ranger, Stephanie recruits both her grandma and Lula to help. In other words, the two joined Stephanie when she went ‘undercover’ at funerals and at bingo. Lula, ever the one to state the obvious, “‘What kind of man comes and drinks your pinot noir, and then throws you in a Dumpster? This man has no manners.’ Mr. Newcomb and I agreed. The killer had no manners.” (Takedown Twenty, pg 157). It’s moments like that which make me laugh aloud while reading my book. This has the side-effect of making me look a little crazy, especially if I am sitting on the train or eating lunch and I just start giggling. Oh well, it’s worth it.
Would I recommend this book? Yes – I think that it was a fun read and I completely devoured it. If you haven’t read the Stephanie Plum series, I recommend it. The series is fun – it definitely isn’t something that will win the pulitzer prize, but these books are bestsellers for a reason; they are enjoyable, easy to read, and you quickly become attached to the characters. (Even Rex, the hamster). Plus you have to enjoy a book that randomly has a giraffe running around for the entire book.