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Jersey girl is at it again

New addition to long series offers same blend of fun

By Diane Makovsky

For The Free Lance-Star

BOUNTY HUNTER Stephanie Plum never seems at a loss for adventure.  Longtime fans and newcomers alike will enjoy the 19th chronicle of Stephanie’s exploits  in Trenton, N.J.  Author Janet Evanovich reprises her old friends who are familiar characters in the series; Ranger and Morelli, Lula and Connie, and, of course, Grandma Mazur.

Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is both vibrant and offbeat.  As a fugitive apprehension agent, she is diligent, competent and not averse to bending the rules  to do the job.

But as she swirls through the underworld of crime to find her quarry, she frequently becomes the target of violence.

Luckily, she’s Teflon-coated and miraculously emerges from any scrape, oftentimes as a result of her attentive romantic interests, Ranger and Morelli, who keep tabs on her and swoop in to save the day.

It’s all in good fun, and Evanovich never puts readers on edge worrying about the longevity of the main characters.

But Evanovich’s minor characters are offered no such guarantee.  In “Notorious Nineteen” they drop like flies, but usually it’s the bad guys doing the dropping, so readers may excuse Stephanie’s lack of empathy.

“Notorious Nineteen” places Stephanie at the heart of an investigation into the disappearance of a man charged with embezzling millions of dollars from a nursing home.  As he awaits trial, he is hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy, but then disappears from the local hospital.

As a  bounty hunter, Stephanie starts an investigation, one that uncovers other similar disappearances. She and  Lula, her zany sometimes-helper, pair up   to work the case, even using Stephanie’s eccentric Grandma Mazur to infiltrate a nursing home  undercover.

Adding to her workload  is another gig that offers a personal bonus.  Stephanie has been hired as his bodyguard by Ranger, who suspects he’s in the crosshairs of a deranged member of his old Special Forces unit.  Stephanie’s the perfect choice; she’ll be Ranger’s spicy date for his buddy’s wedding, even as it challenges her commitment to Joe Morelli, the Trenton cop she’s dating.

“Notorious Nineteen” is peppered with car explosions, shootings, dead bodies and even a tiki totem that projects mental messages.

With mystery, romance, action and humor, this story, like Evanovich’s many others, has  something for everyone.

Diane Makovsky is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.


By Janet Evanovich

(Random House, $28,  320 pp.)


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