Monday, January 30, 2012

Explosive Eighteen

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (NY: Bantam, 2011).

Flying home from a disastrous Hawaiian vacation, Stephanie Plum manages to end up with a photo that way too many people are interested in.  She figures that her seatmate on the flight home probably slipped the photo into her messenger bag by mistake before the layover in LA...but now he's dead!  And the photo's probably at the dump since Stephanie tossed it after a brief glance.  No matter.  The FBI questions her, some guys claiming to be FBI agents are tailing her, a crazed Russian is threatening her with a knife, and a loony hairdresser claims the photo belonged to her now-deceased fiance.  And the mystery photo is just one of the problems facing Stephanie in this installment of the series.  Morelli and Ranger are simmering, Stephanie has sworn off men, and the bond agency's office space is still under construction.  Worst of all, Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie's apartment and refuses to leave unless Stephanie helps her find out what happened to a jeweler who ended up compacted in his car at the junkyard.

I liked this volume much better than Smokin' Seventeen because it focuses on Stephanie's misadventures as a bond agent and reluctant/incompetent investigator.  Evanovich teases out the situation in Hawaii that led to Stephanie flying home alone, but it worked since it kept both Morelli and Ranger in the background during this story. Still, there are more hints that Stephanie's bounty hunting days might be numbered.  There are definitely more of the usual laughs in this novel, and Lulu is in fine form, accidentally ingesting a love potion that has her doting on an king-sized thief.  Recommended for fans of the series.  This is an adult novel.

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