In this 4th book of the series, Stephanie Plum has some competition. Her nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt, who had slept with Stephanie’s now-ex husband before he had “ex” in front of the title, has been hired by Stephanie’s cousin Vinnie to work as another bounty hunter. At first this angers Stephanie only because Joyce is her nemesis. However, later on Joyce becomes a bigger problem when she is assigned to the case that Stephanie is on.
The FTA (failure to appear) that Stephanie is after this time is Maxine. She was arrested for stealing her boyfriend’s car. After missing her court date, she went on the run. Her boyfriend Eddie, who is a real piece of work, offers Stephanie money to help find Maxine because she supposedly has embarrassing love letters that Eddie wrote her. Of course no one (aside from Stephanie, albeit briefly) is going to believe that’s actually what she took from him that he wants.
Stephanie spends time chasing after Maxine, exchanging insults with Joyce, hooking up with Joe Morelli, getting help from Ranger, and making friends with Sally Sweet. I really liked the introduction of this new character. I can’t remember if he shows up in other books but I hope he does. He’s quite entertaining. As usual, in the end she ends up in danger but still gets her FTA.
I appreciated that Evanovich recognizes, and has Stephanie recognize, that she’s not exactly a great bounty hunter. She admits that she doesn’t know much about it and is “just bumbling along, trying to pay my rent” (p. 28). It’s also helpful to know that most of her cases are “routine” and “Ninety percent of the time I have a handle on the sort of person I’m dealing with” (pp. 93-94). This make sense, or she wouldn’t make enough money, but since the books aren’t going to focus on routine cases, the reminder is helpful.
And now, on to book 5.