Sunday 22 June 2014

TOP SECRET TWENTY-ONE by Janet Evanovich

The dead ends are turning into dead bodies. Stephanie Plum is getting desperate. She's running out of leads in the search for Jimmy Poletti, who was caught selling more than cars out of his New Jersey dealership. Even Joe Morelli, the city's hottest cop, is struggling to find the criminal wheeler and dealer.
Stephanie's No. 1 temptation, Ranger, is also struggling. There's a killer in town with a personal vendetta against him. If Ranger wants to survive, he'll need Stephanie's help - and to reveal a piece of his mysterious past. Death threats, highly trained assassins and highly untrained assassins are all in a day's work for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum!
Let me start by saying that I absolutely LOVE this series. It's one of my favourites, and I always look forward to the next hilarious book. So, as soon as I received this from Hachette last week--thanks so much, btw--I got stuck into it.
It all starts when Stephanie helps Ranger nab a guy called Gardi, so he can be sent back to Miami. His capture goes well and Ranger's men take him back to Rangeman HQ so he can be put on a plane the next day. However, everything goes to hell when Gardi contaminates the Rangeman building with radiation and it's shut down indefinitely. 
At the same time, Stephanie takes on the case of looking for Jimmy Poletti--the used car salesman who's been doing some pretty serious illegal stuff on the side. However, finding him is turning out to be a challenge...because his buddies are all turning up dead. Then Randy Briggs enters the scene. Briggs is annoying and rude, but he was Poletti's bookkeeper so he knows all about Poletti's dirty secrets, which now makes him a target. As much as Steph dislikes the guy, she agrees to help keep him alive after his apartment is blown up.
Of course, Briggs staying with her also makes her a target because wherever he goes, a rocket eventually finds him. Before long, one is shot through her living room and Stephanie has to move in with Morelli. While staying with her sort-of boyfriend isn't a problem, dragging Briggs with her is. Yet, as dangerous as this bounty is turning out to be, it doesn't compare to getting the attention of a Russian assassin who's got his 'eye' on Ranger.
As if this isn't enough, she's also got to deal with several other cases that refuse to co-operate, a grandmother with a bucket list that includes getting revenge on Morelli's scary granny, and the feral Chihuahua minions allegedly terrorising Stark Street. Oh, and then there's that pizza with a very peculiar secret ingredient.

If Stephanie can stay alive long enough to find out if Poletti is in fact responsible for killing all the dead bodies, and can avoid being killed by an assassin, she might just get the chance to find out about Morelli's bucket list. ;)
Top Secret Twenty-One is another awesomely hilarious instalment in this super fun series, but like usual, it puts Stephanie in some pretty scary situations.  But she always keeps a level head, and somehow ends up coming out even. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I love how Janet Evanovich throws Stephanie into some pretty horrific situations, but somehow still manages to inject the story with enough light-hearted situations that I always end up cracking up.
I seriously loved this book and was laughing out loud constantly. I can't wait for the next one.
I don't think I'll ever get sick of Steph & Co. This series just keeps getting better and better.

This book also includes the prequel short story for the Fox & O'Hare series, called PROS AND CONS: This introduces us to Kate O'Hare and Nick Fox. One of them is an FBI agent obsessed with finding the conman/thief. The other is a criminal marstermind who gets off on being chased by an attractive federal agent while scoring a lot of wealth along the way. It was a fun intro!
Top Secret Twenty-One, June 2014, ISBN  9781472201614, Headline Review

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