Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich
Whenever I feel like I could use a good laugh, I like to listen to a Stephanie Plumb adventure by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie is the world’s least competent bounty hunter. In fairness, she is becoming more competent after twenty-six books and a bunch of side adventures, but she has so much plain stupid bad luck that you can always count on something hilariously crazy happening to her—like the neighbor spraying her with the garden hose when she’s trying to stealthily stake out the house of a skip she’s tracing.
This novel had the same zany vibe even if the actual focus of the story was more serious than usual. Stephanie’s grandmother spontaneously marries a retired mobster in Atlantic City and he dies of a heart attack forty-five minutes later after winning a jackpot. Now his hated sisters are coming after grandma out of fear that she (as his wife) will inherit his money and at least two groups are coming after her because they mistakenly believe that her dead husband had passed along some very important keys to her before he died. So people are coming after Stephanie’s grandmother and it takes everything she and her supporting cast have to keep the old woman safe.
As mysteries go, the keys were not the most difficult one to figure out. I knew where they were within five minutes, although I doubt that anyone in the book could reasonably be expected to have looked for them in that hiding place.
If you like Stephanie Plumb novels, this one will give you everything you expect to find in them, but I don’t think it’s the best place to start reading the series.
Stephanie has more than her usual share of problems in this novel. Her boyfriend’s grandmother has cursed her, as many as three people may be trying to kill her, and worst of all, her mother is trying to set her up with a “nice young man” that everyone loves because he cooks so well—everyone but Stephanie who is trying to choose between Morelli and Ranger. There’s a laugh on almost every page. If you want a ridiculous distraction , you should give this novel a try.
I’ve been reading the Stephanie Plumb series since the late 1990s and the books are always a lot of fun. This one takes a leap onto the wilder side when zombies arrive in Trenton and Stephanie finds them interfering in her life. Either they’re stealing the heads of people causing Morelli to have to work double shifts or they’re grabbing up the people she’s trying to bring in for their bounties. There’s all the usual zaniness that we expect—especially from Lula and Grandma Mazur. This one also sees the return of Diesel and I found it just a little strange. He used to appear in the holiday novels all of which had a supernatural element. Then he switched to the Wicked Series which even more strongly emphasized the supernatural, and his appearance here will really make you wonder about the zombies in Hardcore Twenty-Four.
This has one of the quirkiest plots of any Stephanie Plumb novel I’ve read (and that is really saying something). The bail bond company Stephanie works for has acquired a deli when a man they bonded out flees the country. Managers of the deli keep disappearing, leaving only a single shoe by the dumpster out back. Stephanie (of course) is made manager of this unfriendly workplace. The deli makes for an unusual and definitely fun diversion from the usual Plumb fare and eats up a lot of the middle of the novel. Eventually the problems of the deli link up to the various skips Stephanie always traces. This is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through Stephanie’s zany world.
With this book, Janet Evanovich decided to take a turn toward the even-more-fanciful with her Stephanie Plum series and write a holiday story filled with actual magic in addition to the normal zaniness that marks these books. This time around, Stephanie is trying to track down Sandy Claws, a toy store owner who has skipped his court appearance because it’s just a few days to Christmas and he has a lot of work to do to get ready. Tagging along is her newest manly temptation, Diesel, who has a magical gift for teleportation, opening locks, and annoying Stephanie. Mix in all the craziness of getting ready for the holiday, a supernatural battle between lightning wielding evil and the forces of good (represented by Stephanie), and of course, Gramma Mazur’s latest stud muffin. This is far from the best Evanovich book, yet I find myself listening to it most Christmas seasons. My guess is that you will enjoy it too.