by Janet Evanovich
308 pages, St. Martin’s Press
Review by Kwana Jackson
Once again reluctant bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is back, in Janet Evanovich’s newest novel Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. I’ve been a fan of the Stephanie Plum series since her first: One for the Money, but I will admit to being Tardy for the Party with jumping on the Stephanie Plum bandwagon, having only come on the scene a few years ago.
I found Stephanie through a want of some fun “reading” material that I could walk to. See I was tired of the music on my iPod and my TBR (to be read) pile was out of control, so I thought I’d give audio books a try. Well, I was hooked on Stephanie from when I first hit play. These are just the types of books a person could lose themselves in while doing a not so fun chore like cleaning or exercising, since they’re so laugh-out-loud funny.
Here is the blurb for Finger Lickin’ Fifteen:
UNBUCKLE YOUR BELT AND PULL UP A CHAIR. IT'S THE SPICIEST, SAUCIEST, MOST RIB-STICKING PLUM YET.
Recipe for disaster:
Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head --literally.
Throw in some spice:
Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she’ll talk to is Trenton cop, Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat:
Chipotle’s sponsor is offering a million dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot:
Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient:
Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur. Enough said.
Bring to a boil:
Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, A.K.A. Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?
Habanero hot. So good you’ll want seconds.
I have to say, it must be hard for Ms. Evanovich to come up with a new plot for yet another Plum novel (we are up to 15), but once again she did. I was pleasantly surprised to see Lula, her ex-prostitute sidekick, get a starring role in this one. She gives it a funny and fresh new twist. Stephanie and Lula together are the Lucy and Ethel of hapless bounty hunters. If there’s a mishap to be found, they’ll find it. I also really enjoyed seeing how their friendship has grown over the series, and in this installment it’s clear.
It was the scenes with Lula that had me laughing out loud on my walks with the dog and while driving in my car (remember this is the audio book). In this book Lula clearly stole the show from the first moment she bursts into the bail bond’s office yelling for food to calm her nerves after witnessing a guy getting his head cut off. Literally cut off. Yes, Lula runs for food even before calling the cops.
Add to that mix the never-aging Grandma Mazur, some hilarious scenes with the neighborhood flasher and lots of bad barbeque, and you’ve got a real good time.
Then there is the ongoing love triangle between Stephanie, her on-again off-again cop boyfriend, Joe Morelli and the bad boy in black, Ranger. There are some steamy scenes which are full of frustration with Ranger and Stephanie that I would have loved to see go further. I would have also loved to see more confrontation between Stephanie, Joe and Ranger. Of course Stephanie can’t make an ultimate choice because I fear the series will go the way of Moonlighting if a final decision is made but I’d still like to see some more tension there.
But what it didn’t have in tension, it did have in fun. No one can turn a phrase like Evanovich, or blow up a car or set fire to something and make it all seem like just another day, but she does. No one gets whacked that doesn’t really deserve it and in the end you’re left with a satisfying read that feels like time spent visiting old friends or better yet, wacky dysfunctional relatives.