(I’m back. I failed miserably at CBR12. My last review was about a week before, you know, The Great Quarantine. At first I thought it would be great, that I would have all kinds of spare time to read and write reviews and that would be the year that I really crushed it. Except no, cause that’s not how life works when you have four teenagers and a puppy in your house. All the time. And they never leave. And you can never leave. And they never stop talking. Or eating. Did I mention they never leave?)
Stephanie Plum is back. We all know my love/hate relationship with Stephanie and Janet, and this installment is no different. Entry number 27 (parenthetically named Tantalizing Twenty-Seven and I’m not sure why Janet couldn’t just use that as the real title) finds Stephanie single and on the hunt for Grandma’s dead husband’s treasure. Problem is, everyone else is looking for it, too, and in book 26, Stephanie and Grandma were nearly killed over the mysterious missing treasure, so Stephanie’s not wild about her mission, but she needs to protect Grandma. Plus, she’s only got two skips to trace – a guy who served deep fried cockroaches to his ex-wife and an intrepid pooper who pledges his fealty to Stephanie to protect her after she posted his bond for him.
Stephanie’s a bit on her own in this one. Lula’s around, but she doesn’t love going in to the underground tunnels in Trenton, especially after one of Grandma’s dead husband’s cohorts sets a flame thrower on them and they blow up the local no-tell motel. Connie helps, and we get to meet Connie’s mom. And there’s the pooper. But conspicuously absent is Morelli, who officially broke up with Stephanie at the end of the last book because she needs to get her life in order. (NO KIDDING, JOE. WE KNOW THIS. WE’VE ONLY BEEN SAYING IT FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.)
Enter Ranger, and yes, Stephanie and Ranger do the horizontal hanky panky a couple of times. (Sadly, there are no details. What the hell, Janet? Details, girl. De. Tails.) And it’s strange, but if feels a bit…meh? Like, I’m Team Ranger all the way because he’s, you know, RANGER, but it didn’t seem quite right. If Janet is taking 27 (or more) books to tell me that Joe Morelli is the guy for Stephanie, I’m going to be mad.
In the end, Stephanie gets the treasure (sort of), with an assist from Ranger, and a new character named Gabriella, who is tall, skinny, and wears black Louboutin boots to chase bad guys in. And while I hated her when I thought she was seducing Morelli, I liked her after she pulled a hit and run and saved Stephanie from two goons who were trying to kidnap her. But then I realized that Janet was trying to introduce a new character with her own series, and, well, I’m not so sure how I feel about that.
Oh! I almost forgot. Mrs. Plum gets kidnapped by some pretty bad dudes. Stephanie saves her, of course, with Ranger and Morelli in the wings, but Janet missed a big opportunity to let Mrs. Plum shine. A couple of books ago, she brained a bad guy with a cast iron pan; I find it hard to believe she’d have been kidnapped by the most inept criminals ever to land in Trenton.
Once again, I’ll keep reading these as long as Janet’s writing them, but I’ll complain the whole time.