Rex is a lucky, lucky hamster.
Spoilers abound, so… be warned.
Simon Diggery is FTA, so Stephanie goes to get him, and he happily goes along with her. Simon’s usually an issue, so when he’s willing to go to jail and hang out there for a while, Stephanie can’t resist asking why. Turns out, there are zombies on the loose, which Simon discovered while grave robbing. Which, okay, but Stephanie’s not interested in zombie hunting because it’s scary, and besides, she’s too busy taking care of Ethel, Simon’s pet boa, while Simon is in the clink.
But then Morelli catches a case involving a body with a missing brain, and then Grandma offers up the information that brains and heads have gone missing from the funeral home, and then Diesel shows back up, and, well, Stephanie needs to maybe deal with the zombie thing.
In the meantime, Grandma has met a George Hamilton lookalike online, and he invites Grandma down to visit him in Key West. So she runs away, Connie finds out that George looks more like the Costanza version than the Hamilton version, he’s married, and he and his wife are swingers. So in the midst of zombie hunting, Stephanie has to go rescue Grandma and bring her back while Mrs. Plum eyes her ironing board. Also, Diesel is crashing at Stephanie’s, Stephanie is staying at Morelli’s, and Rex is having a sleepover at Ranger’s. It’s good to be Rex.
It’s typical Stephanie Plum – wacky highjincks and lots of food (I don’t understand why Stephanie doesn’t weigh 500 pounds) and crazy outfits from Lula and some car explosions. And speaking of, for the first time ever, Ranger threatens to exact payment for a new car: a night with him. Stephanie knows she is going to blow up this car. Ranger knows she is going to blow up this car. EVERYONE knows she is going to blow up this car. So she double or nothings him, and sure enough, she blows up the second one. (Well, one of them didn’t explode, but some road kill exploded inside, so…same thing.) Anyway, Ranger, in a throwaway line but one that I found very interesting, tells Stephanie, in response to her query about whether he’s going to collect on their bet, that she is driving this bus, and she alone makes those decisions. It’s made very clear that Stephanie is going to have to make the move.
Which brings up a whole other discussion, and one that we’ve had before, about whether it’s time for Stephanie to grow up and make a choice. And for awhile, I thought she was moving in that direction; she and Joe were sort of engaged to be engaged during the last book. But with this Ranger bet, I’m not so sure. And I wonder if Janet’s trying to tell us something with Diesel back in the mix, although Stephanie pointedly stays at Joe’s while Diesel is there. I vacillate over how to feel about Stephanie and her inability to make a decision, and whether Joe is a sucker for staying with her, and whether Stephanie is a jerk for treating Joe the way she does, and whether Ranger is just a player. But then I realize that maybe I’m giving too much though to fictional characters and their romantic lives. Plus also: Team Ranger 4-eva, so I have to kind of suspend my moral outrage in order to keep reading about him.
Conspicuously missing from this installment were Stephanie’s dad, her cousin Eddie Gazarra, Vinnie, Grandma Bella, and Joyce Barnhart. And Tank, whom I love dearly. And even though Valerie and Albert Kloughn and their pack of weird kids haven’t been around in several years, I miss them, too. Connie and Lula weren’t as prominent and even though the men were around, they were definitely not the focus. Stephanie did a lot on her own this time around, which is a bit of a departure, and it was kind of nice to see.
I’ll keep reading these as long as Janet churns them out. I mean: Ranger. Duh.
More reviews found here.