In Hard Eight
, Stephanie Plum picks up a case a little nastier than anything the wisecracking bounty hunter's seen before. Evelyn Soder and her young daughter have gone on the run, leaving an angry ex-husband who's planning to collect on a child custody bond that will leave Evelyn's grandmother homeless. Stephanie's first clue that there's more to it than that comes in the form of Eddie Abruzzi: a shady local businessman who warns her to butt out of the case. Stephanie doesn't scare easily, but when Abruzzi's henchmen leave a bag of snakes on her doorknob and tarantulas in her car, she has no choice but to call Ranger, the hunky man of mystery to whom she already owes too many favours. Steph knows that Ranger will soon be calling in his debts, but with her ex-fiancé Joe Morelli out of the picture, that should be OK--shouldn't it?
In the meantime, she's got other fugitives to catch, aided by the usual band of misfits, plus a bumbling correspondence-school lawyer who's developed the hots for Stephanie's sister, Valerie. And Steph's in for a surprise from her mother, who proves she's not above wielding a dangerous weapon to save her daughter's life. Author Janet Evanovich has made a bold move in using a soupçon of child jeopardy to pull this series out of the comfortable but formulaic pattern it was threatening to fall into. It's still funny, and yes, some cars are destroyed, but now there's a real edge of darkness under the humour. Fans needn't fear, though: Jersey girl Stephanie is still full of sass and Tastykakes. --Barrie Trinkle, Amazon.com
Bombshell bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is back on her Harley - so we're in for another wild ride. Witty, fresh, and full of surprises, Janet Evanovich's adroit thriller is full of more misadventures for Stephanie. As she spirals and tumbles through her customarily frenetic and incendiary world, she can hardly catch her breath, let alone her man - even if she could decide which one to chase... Janet Evanovich now lives in New Hampshire but, like Stephanie Plum, grew up in New Jersey and utilises her background for some evocative scene-setting. She has won major crime fiction awards for her Stephanie Plum novels; One for the Money bagged a Crime Writers' Association Award, as did Two for the Dough. If this new one isn't quite in the class of its predecessors, it's still great fun.