Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich (3 out of 5)

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I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Like any other series, there are great entries, and there are not-so-great entries. This one falls under not so great. Having said that, you never lose the thread of entertainment that is Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, and her posse. 

This time out finds Stephanie chasing down Trenton’s infamous mob boss Sunny Sunucchi. He skipped out over running over a guy twice, and no one wants to get near him or his goon squad. Well, except Stephanie and her sidekick, former ho turned bounty hunter assistant, Lula. Stephanie’s somewhat fiance Morelli is mixed up in the mess, not only because he’s a cop, but because Sunny happens to be his godfather. Morelli’s insane grandmother Bella (who hates Stephanie with a consuming passion) not only puts the eye on Stephanie again due to her not liking her, but because she’s hunting down Sunny. It sounds a lot more ominous than it is, because nothing is ominous where Stephanie is involved. Stephanie’s also helping Ranger, her other determined suitor and head security man in town, hunt down the killer of his friend’s mother. There’s a personal stake involved there, because the murdered woman plays bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Turns out there’s a serial killer murdering old ladies in town. Stephanie’s up to her neck in that and hoping Grandma Mazur isn’t the next victim. Add to this whole thing the fact that a giraffe-named Kevin by Lula- is roaming around Trenton, and no one seems to know why, and you have all sorts of calamity going down.

So again- she’s helping the two men who have her heart. They both have personal stakes in the cases that she’s helping on. Neither man is making it easy for Stephanie, and neither criminal is playing easy. Stephanie gets tossed off a bridge and almost buys the farm, but Ranger rescues her in the nick of time. Seriously freaked out over this near miss, she decides to quit bounty hunting and get a real job. Enter Randy Berger, the slightly meat-crazed butcher in town, who offers her a job and a relationship at the same time. Stephanie politely declines that but gives the butchering a honest attempt. This being Stephanie, that blows up quickly and in spectacular fashion. She ends up going back to the bounty hunting, but for how long? She attempts to nail one of the perpetrators, and things get ugly fast. What happens? I can’t say, but it’s an interesting tie-up to both cases.

What can I say here? Well, you have all your usual characters in full glory (except no Joyce Barnhardt, who I actually think would have helped the story somewhat), but something is missing here. Stephanie’s consumed with settling down and hashing out her complicated feelings for both Morelli and Ranger, and the fun has slightly seeped out of this. Lula seems way more concerned with finding the mystery giraffe than backing up her partner in several slightly dangerous situation. Morelli seems distracted by his huge Italian family and Sunday gameday gatherings than in Stephanie’s attempts to have a serious conversation about where they’re heading. Ranger continues to play a full court press, minus the commitment, and yet, even he seems not as determined in his pursuit of Stephanie (maybe he’s just giving her space?). Grandma Mazur is the only person who seems like herself here. Everyone else is just a distracted footnote. 

My main beef is that, and add to it the ending to both scenarios. It seems a little contrived. The ends didn’t seem to tie up as well as I think she could have tied them up. This one felt like Evanovich was phoning it in. I hope for better things the next time around, in June 2014. 

 

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~ by generationgbooks on November 25, 2013.

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