In this high-powered action mystery, Stephanie Plum (bumbling bounty hunter extraordinaire) starts with her life at a low point. She is broke, she has no work to do, she has broken up with her policeman boy friend Joe Morelli, and she has an unwelcome unpaid investigative job to find her annoying cheapskate Uncle Fred. But life does improve by the end, and Stephanie saves the day!
If you have not yet read a Stephanie Plum novel, let me explain about her. She is one of the most endearing mystery characters ever developed. Fiercely independent, her attitude is always showing (although she may shake like a leaf afterwards). Tremendously attracted to aggressive men, she plays it coy as much as she possibly can. Prone to disasters, she keeps her chin up and keeps on trucking. Loyal to her family, she is often babysitting her Grandma Mazur when she and her Father are not hitting it off. And she makes her living by bring in people who are out of jail on bail and fail to appear in court. She gets 10 percent of the bail amount when she succeeds. It's a tough way to go for the former lingerie model, but it excites and challenges her to the core.
If you already know Stephanie, you will find her at her caring, jealous, lusting, nosy, sneaky, obtuse, hungry, and persistent best. She finds herself more and more attracted to Ranger (her bounty hunting mentor) and to Joe Morelli (her policeman exboy-friend). Yet she wants to be in charge, which sets up a great source of conflicts.
To give you a sense of how appealing I find her as a character, whenever she ignores an obvious clue I want to tell her to pay attention. With any other book, I find myself annoyed with the author for making the msytery too transparent. But you will want to read this book for Stephanie, not for the mystery (although it is a perfectly fine one).
Before the book is done, you will have experienced explosions, homicidal attacks, lots of gun play, Stephanie will go through a number of vehicles in typical Stephanie fashion, bail jumpers will be brought to justice, deaths will be avenged, Uncle Fred will be found, and you'll go to more viewings as a funeral home than you can imagine. The story is very fast paced and rewarding. Yet all of this is done with consistent humor and balance. So although there is a dark side, it is always overwhelmed by Stephanie's light.
The plot is very well developed. You have the main plot of finding Uncle Fred. To that are added important subplots of getting to know Joe Morelli better (even attending a family wedding with him), getting nonbounty-hunting jobs from Ranger, working on her diet, solving her financial problems, having an unwanted roommate, being stalked by a mystery man, and being hunted by a killer with revenge on his mind. Each of the subplots could make a whole novel if more fleshed out. The result is that you get a whole fabric of a life and her relationships here, moving forward and backward in time.
This book provides an unusually good balance of plot, character development, and humor. On the humor side, let me mention for those who have not read these books before that Stephanie is a very bawdy person in many ways, and the language and situations can have an overt sexual cast. So if you are offended easily by hearing about how a woman thinks about men sexually, you may not like the book. That's the only drawback I need to warn you about.
In fact, this book is so successful that is transcends the normal action mystery genre. Virtually everyone will find this book to be an engaging, uplifting read. I liked it much better than Hot Six! (which I also recommend that you read) because the mystery, the plotting, and the character developments are much better done and balanced in this one.
Overcome your disbelief that women can't make it in a man's world! Let Stephanie save your day by providing you with a wonderful read!