Title: Explosive Eighteen
Author: Janet Evanovich
Published: November 2011 (Random House Publishing Group)
Summary: Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 from Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. The FBI, the fake FBI, and guns-for-hire are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying. Only one other person has seen the missing photograph—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. Over at the Bail Bonds Agency it’s business as usual—until the bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke, Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their “largest” FTA yet, lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?! Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.
My Review: I started the Stephanie Plum series nearly 8 years ago and have been a loyal fan ever since. Explosive Eighteen is the latest in the series, so I obviously had to read it. Especially since Smokin' Seventeen ended in a cliffhanger. Also, the last few installments have not been quite up to par with the standards the series previously set, so I was interested to see what this one had to offer.
Any Plum book is going to be an enjoyable read, period. Evanovich has a knack for finding the most absurd problems, and the comments about said circumstances are unfailingly hilarious. The characters are crazy, in good ways or bad. You can't read a Plum book and not laugh. 18 was no exception to this rule. Stephanie and Lula continued to crack me up, and the one-liners abounded. My favorite one was probably the first one listed in the Quotes section below.
However, I have found myself getting frustrated in the last few books. I have been a steadfast Ranger fan from the very beginning. I never wavered for a moment. I nearly bought myself a "Babe" t-shirt at one point. However, with the ridiculous absurdity that was the Stephanie/Ranger interaction in 17, I found myself just wanting Stephanie to give it up and pick one. Of course I want it to be Ranger. Of course. But the triangle is nowhere as fun as it used to be. It's just getting old. Maybe that's just what happens after 20+ books (including the Between-the-Numbers novels).
There were some things I liked about 18. I love that Tank made an appearance! I've missed him. There was Steph/Ranger interaction that wasn't chock-full of WTF-ery, ala 17. There was a fun surprise that I can't mention for fear of being spoilery. I liked that the mystery about the vacation was drawn out, although it went on for a little long. Overall, 18 was definitely an improvement over 17, and I can only hope that 19 continues the trend.
❝I was driving a truck now. Appropriate, I thought. Empowering. I’d practically grown testicles.❞
❝Sometimes there’s a fine line between a cowardly act and a brilliant decision…❞
❝It’s like you’re a reality show, all by yourself.❞
❝“He didn’t impress me as much of a good time, so I didn’t invite him in. Did he catch up with you?”
“Yeah. He was waiting downstairs.”
“I shot him, and he left.”
“Nice. I was thinking we should put the frozen pizza in the oven. Is there any more wine?”❞
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