Becky’s Two Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Book Review: “Tricky Twenty-Two” by Janet Evanovich

“Tricky Twenty-Two” is the twenty-second book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I have to say, this is one of those guilty pleasure book series. There is a certain comfort that comes with these books, knowing the dynamics between Stephanie and the different men in her life – that makes it so much fun to read these and revisit characters I know and love. When at the bookstore recently, I saw “Turbo Twenty-Three” and realized that I had somehow missed the release of “Tricky Twenty-Two”. Don’t worry though; I immediately solved the problem by purchasing both books.

SPOILER ALERT – There are some spoilers for those that haven’t read the first several books in this series.

We once again open this book following Stephanie Plum as she tries to scrape by in her job as a bounty hunter. At the beginning of the book she is in the “on-again” part of her relationship with Morelli, but that soon changes. As she tries to work through things in her personal life, she is spending time making money by chasing down bad guys. It’s what she does. There were a lot of the same things happening as we have seen in the past books. Destroyed cars, lusting after and sort of pursuing a different job, an excessive amount of ridiculousness… and far too much indulgence in food. But that is part of the fun of these books.

What I really enjoyed about “Tricky Twenty-Two” was the slight shift that came over Stephanie. Instead of getting herself into heaps of trouble and fully playing the part of the damsel in distress, she actually tried to solve the problem herself this time. I was impressed. After all those times of needing rescuing, Stephanie decided to stand up and help herself. It was a nice change of pace. There was another character in this book that surprised everyone by getting in on the action. But in a series where there is seldom a surprise, I don’t want to give too much away.

Would I recommend this book? It was certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon. I really do like the main characters that Evanovich continually brings back to the table with these books. Lula is always a source of amusement and the dynamic between Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger continually leaves me entertained. Is the series a little overdone? Sure. Am I still going to keep reading these books? Probably. As long as Evanovich keeps writing them, I am going to want to know what fresh challenges are going to arise in Stephanie Plum’s life. Luckily for me, the next book in the series is right upstairs and ready to go.

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Becky’s One Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Book Review: “The Heist” by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I’ll admit it. I thought Janet Evanovich was losing her touch. The Stephanie Plum novels, while still entertaining, are just pretty much formula now. I think she ought to retire the character at book 25 for a nice round finish. That being said, I was a bit skeptical about her new series featuring Kate O’Hare, FBI agent and Nick Fox, elusive criminal. It’s been sitting by the couch pretty much since I got it and finally I decided to pick it up.

A very short time later, I had devoured the entire book. It was SO good! First of all, Kate O’Hare is a strong, smart, problem-solving kind of individual. She doesn’t hide her gun in the cookie jar. She wields it as it meant to be and she doesn’t back down. She also is not the type of character that needs rescuing every five minutes. Sorry Stephanie, but it gets old fast – grow a backbone and get yourself out of these messes yourself!

The premise for “The Heist” is Kate O’Hare finally captures her unicorn – Nick Fox. Then she finds out that he has escaped and with some help. She soon discovers how and why and finds herself unhappily teamed up with Nick with the plan to take down a bad guy. While she never forgets that he is a bad guy, she still finds herself taking precautions despite the fact that Nick knows her weaknesses. “He was luring her into a stupefied complacency with chocolate. The pan was pure evil.” (The Heist, pg 99).

While Nick and Kate are fun characters, there are some really great supporting characters. My favorite was her dad, Jake. He is former Special Forces (I believe) and knows how to kill a man sixteen different ways with a pair of tweezers. Now he lives in the garage at Kate’s sister’s house. “I’m still fighting wars. We’ve got a real problem here with morning glories invading the common areas. I’m leading the landscaping committee’s offensive to repel the invasion.” (The Heist, pg 51). Like I said, a real fun character.

The book is a page-turner for sure. It still has that fun amount of humor in it – something that I always enjoy in my books. If you can’t tell already, I would definitely recommend this book. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one. That is the truly fun part about starting a series a little late, the next book is usually already out. Kate is a really fun character and her chemistry with Nick Fox makes for some really entertaining situations. I am really looking forward to reading more of their adventures. 

Becky’s One Hundred and Eighteenth Book Review: “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich

“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.