Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich. Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she's knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she's flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, 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. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying. Only one other person has seen the missing photo-Stephanie Plum. Now she's the target, and she doesn't intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she'll need to watch her back. Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie's temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie's wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip 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.
"In what is really the second half of Smokin' Seventeen (2011), bail-bondswoman Stephanie Plum returns to Trenton, New Jersey, a day early from a supposedly romantic vacation in Hawaii alone. We do not find out until much later who accompanied her there and what happened after that. The thrill is gone from this long-running series, along with the giggles, the gentle pokes, and the rip-roaring enjoyment. Nearly all the characters have turned into caricatures, no one more so than Lula, whose badass sassiness has turned into stupidity. Here Lula ingests a love potion and falls for a purse snatcher. A few rats do fall from the ceiling: Stephanie's nemesis of long ago, Joyce Barnhardt, actually takes over Steph's apartment for a while, and there is a misplaced-photograph trope that ends rather creatively. The cop Morelli (Cupcake!) and the security expert Ranger (Babe!) are Stephanie's men, and watching her try to balance between them or choose one, a former pleasure of the series, has become just embarrassing. Stephanie never learns and never grows, just makes the same bad choices over and over. It's exhausting. A forthcoming movie based on the series, which takes place in earlier, wittier times, will probably jump-start many into the series, and die-hard fans won't let go until Stephanie does.--DeCandido, GraceAnne A. Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Life is never dull for Stephanie Plum, but now she's got an assassin and the FBI on her tail in Evanovich's less than stellar 18th entry in her main sequence featuring the New Jersey bounty hunter (after Smokin' Seventeen). Back in Trenton after a disastrous trip to Hawaii that involved both Ranger and Joe Morelli (don't ask, she won't talk), Stephanie tries to go about life in the bond business, accompanied as always by her sidekick, Lula. But Hawaii won't stay buried, especially when news that her seatmate turned up murdered and his killers are convinced that Stephanie now has a photograph he was carrying. With Stephanie's luck, the photograph did end up in her luggage, but she threw it away, thinking it was junk. But try telling that to the FBI-and the shady men masquerading agents-or the hit man who goes by Razzle Dazzle and wants to kill her and take the photograph, not necessarily in that order. There are still bond jumpers to catch-like Buggy, who repeatedly steals Stephanie's car-and the perpetual Morelli versus Ranger question to answer. In the end, there's little to distinguish this installment from its recent predecessors. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."