I’m not quite sure exactly how many of these Stephanie Plum books I’ve reviewed for CBRs over the years. Five? Six? And every time, I tell myself I’m not going to bother reading the next one. But I do. And every time, I’m angry that literally NOTHING happens to propel the plot or the characters, and that all they do is drive around New Jersey eating junk food and blowing up cars.
But the library had this when I went in before SNOWZILLA hit last week, and I figured it couldn’t hurt.
And I’m going to say something I’ve absolutely never said about a Stephanie Plum book before, and probably won’t ever say again:
I really enjoyed it. And some real-life stuff actually happened to the main characters.
Yes, of course Stephanie and Lula drive around in various cars and eat fried chicken, donuts, pizza, meatball subs, onion rings, and delicious New Jersey deli food. Of course Stephanie gets in over her head, and destroys at least one car. And yes, there were some ridiculous scenes with Grandma Mazur at the funeral home.
But also? Stephanie actually figured some stuff out about her life.
Spoilers? Maybe? Does it matter at this point? After all, this is the 22nd book.
Joe breaks up with Stephanie. Which really upsets her much more than she ever thought it would. When Ranger hits on her, she can’t even reciprocate, because maybe she loves Joe more than she knew.
Stephanie also realizes that maybe being a bounty hunter isn’t the best career option for a single 30-something woman looking to settle down and have a family someday. She considers learning to bake — and she figures out how to make a cake all on her own, which, honestly, I thought she was totally going to f-up. But in the end, she realizes that she’s good at what she does, and that she enjoys it. Good for her.
This story was a bit more violent than usual, and I was actually nervous at times. I KNOW. THIS IS A JANET EVANOVICH BOOK. I should never be nervous about anything except maybe how high everyone’s blood pressure is from eating all of those donuts. But I was. The main plot had a crazy person, per usual, but this guy was even more sadistic and insane than the usual Evanovich nutjob. His goal was to seek revenge against the college where he worked (because reasons? tenure? I don’t know) and to release thousands of genetically modified fleas on campus in order to spread the bubonic plague and kill everyone in his path. This was unpleasant. And while I was never really worried about Stephanie (and she really did get banged up in this story), I did worry about the lives of some of the characters around her.
In the end, we find out that Joe broke up with Stephanie because he was sick and thought he was dying. He wasn’t. He had some stupid allergy that made him think he had colon cancer. But their separation made them realize how much they love each other and (I think) they decided to become engaged to be engaged. No ring, but a promise of sorts. I hope it holds.
Lastly, I need to talk a bit about my favorite part of this book. Finally, Evanovich decided to do something with Mrs. Plum other than make her iron and cook and sneak shots of bourbon. She kicked ass and it was a glorious delight. I’d totally read a spin-off book about Mrs. Plum driving around Trenton and attacking all of the men that had hurt her daughter over the years.
Was this book still ridiculous? Yes. I read it in one sitting, it wasn’t much of a challenge. But I like the fact that for a few hours, I can just slip in to this stupid world and forget about the 36″ of snow that will end up keeping my kids out of school for over a week.