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Bewildering Stories

Janet Evanovich, Tricky Twenty-Two

reviewed by Alison McBain

Tricky Twenty-Two
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Bantam
Date: November 8, 2016
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 0345542975; 9780345542977
Price: $8.99

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Janet Evanovich book, so I was happy to pick up one of her Stephanie Plum series, called Tricky Twenty-Two. I thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover.

Stephanie Plum, the main character, is an inept bail bondsman. She dislikes guns and seldom carries one with her. Even more seldom does she load it with bullets. Sometimes, she gets her FTAs — the “failure to appears” who have forfeited their bond by not showing up for their scheduled court date — but, more often than not, she gets caught up in wild goose chases trying to capture her FTAs.

Stephanie gets most of her inside info for her job from the two guys in her life. One is Joe Morelli, a cop and her sometime boyfriend. Then there’s Ranger, a sexy security expert who has an endless expanse of top-of-the-line cars which he loans to her and which she promptly destroys in “not my fault!” accidents. He tends to bail her out of the tough situations she finds herself in. With her trusty sidekick Lula, a “former ‘ho,” Stephanie tracks down the criminals, often with silly and hilarious end results.

In this latest book, Stephanie’s main FTA is a college student, Ken “Gobbles” Globovic, accused of assaulting the dean of his college. However, the more Stephanie pursues Gobbles, the more she thinks that maybe he is ducking the law for a more important reason than just wanting to stay out of jail. As the bodies begin to pile up, she has to discover who is behind the murders and how Gobbles is connected to it all, since what Gobbles knows may help her catch the killer and avoid becoming his next victim.

I feel that the enjoyment of reading Ms. Evanovich’s books come from her great writing style and wise-cracking female characters. More often over-the-top than not, the main characters are subjected to humiliations galore while trying to round up criminals.

Humor is often more of a factor than the reality of the situation, so suspending disbelief is important when walking through the metaphorical door of a Stephanie Plum book. The plots don’t vary much; Stephanie sometimes catches criminals while dancing between the two men in her life. Half the fun is discovering how Stephanie can extricate herself from the increasingly dangerous situations she puts herself into.

One small thing that I think is great for people with a bad memory — like me! — is that the titles are a no-brainer. The order of the books in the series is already included in the title. As long as you remember the last number you read, you know which book is next. And although you can start at the beginning of the series, I feel that once you know the main setup of the series, you don’t have to read all the books in order; the basic background of the characters doesn’t change much from book to book.

If you’re looking for a realistic mystery, I’d probably suggest looking elsewhere. But if you’re looking for humor and hijinks, this book provides them in spades. I’d definitely recommend this book, and the series in general.

Copyright © 2017 by Alison McBain

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