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Top Secret Twenty-one by Janet Evanovich

Once again, Trenton NJ bond enforcer, Stephanie Plum is off to another batch of zany assignments in “Top Secret Twenty-One.”

Stephanie starts out on the latest adventure working as a look-out for her occasional boss, Ranger, in an attempt to bring down a high ticket bond-jumper and gangland thug, Emilio Gardi to extradite back to Miami.  Next up is a local businessman, Jimmy Poletti, who seems to have disappeared.  Everyone, including his wife, is after him. In looking for Poletti Stephanie and her side-kick, Lula, run into Poletti’s accountant, Briggs who admits he has been cooking the books for Poletti.  When Brigg’s apartment is blown up and other people who know too much about Poletti start showing up dead, it becomes apparent that Poletti is out to remove any evidence of his mis-deeds before he is caught.  Briggs, who comes across as a Danny Davito look-alike, obviously needs protection and shelter, and Stephanie reluctantly provides it.  Briggs and Lula play off their nearly opposite personalities for some pretty funny reading.

As usual, Evanovich intertwines several mysteries into one mad-cap story with vivid characters for another entertaining read in “”Top Secret Twenty-one.”

Liz Nichols

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Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich has served up one of the most entertaining Stephanie Plum novels in recent memory with “Takedown Twenty.”

Things get very serious in the Trenton bail bond business– serious in Stephanie’s usual zany way.  She helps Ranger figure out who is murdering older women and stuffing their strangled bodies in dumpsters.  She also has two dangerous bond jumpers who almost get the best of her.  One is a Mafia wiseguy named Sunny Sunnuchi, a relative of Stephanie’s boyfriend, Joe Morelli.  Stephanie is nearly taken out a number of times trying to capture Uncle Sunny, and she gains the ire of the neighborhood and Joe’s Grandma Bella because Sunny is a favorite son to many inhabitants of the Burg.  Grandma Bella carries out a couple of serious curses on Stephanie and makes our favorite bail bonds enforcer unwelcome around the Morelli family home.  The second bounty hunt is against a young guy who is wanted for murder.  As a result of her attempt to capture the young thug she manages to fracture a finger and break her nose.  Her luck seems so bad on all fronts that she decides to quit the bond business and become a butcher’s assistant for the owner of a deli–until disaster strikes on that brief stint at the deli.

To add a little quirky humor to the plot, Lula keeps seeing a real giraffe loping down the streets surrounding Uncle Sunny’s establishment and she keeps following it just at times when Stephanie needs her help.  The whole mystery behind the giraffe is explained toward the end as Stephanie gets all the story threads tied up.

As usual for an Evanovich novel, “Takedown Twenty” is a funny, fast-paced read that will please the legion of Stephanie Plum lovers.

Liz Nichols

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Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

This Stephanie Plum Novel, “Smokin’ Seventeen,” has all the classic Plum elements: sex, mangled and missing cars, weird fugitives, zany plots, and laugh-out-loud humor.  As usual, I zipped through this book in about two days because it was hard to put down and very entertaining.

In this edition of the story about the Trenton, NJ bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, our heroine is cornered by her family into allowing a new guy, Dave, into her life.  Encouraged by her mother and grandmother, Dave shows up at all hours at Stephanie’s apartment to cook for her.  He reads in signals that aren’t there about her interest in him and she has to beat him off a few times.  He just can’t take a hint, even a broad hint.

Meanwhile, boyfriend #1, Morelli, has a grandmother who is putting vordo spells on Stephanie, intended to turn her into a slutty sex fiend.  They seem to work, since she can’t seem to stop lusting for sex with Morelli or Ranger with equal passion and desire.  She has a hard time picking between them, and the book ends with the whole question of who she’ll choose up in the air. Again.

The perps Stephanie and Lula go after are among the strangest in any of the Stephanie Plum books. One thinks he is a vampire and he sleeps inside a coffin during the day.  If he is forced out during the day he acts as if he is going to go up in smoke. If he gets caught he’ll start sucking blood.  Lula thinks for awhile she has been turned into a vampire and has growing fangs until she goes to the dentist and discovers that her weird feeling teeth are just because of an abscess.

Stephanie Plum lovers will plum love this book, and most others will too.

Liz Nichols

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