Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s worst bounty hunter, has more than the usual problems. The bail jumpers have mounted up so far that cousin Vinnie’s bail bonding agency could go under unless she and sidekick Lula bring them in - fast. But the biggest money is made off the most dangerous criminals, and Stephanie and Lula don’t want to get shot at. The agency needs another employee, but the only applicant who’s not a total loser (or totally nuts) is scheming superbitch Joyce Barnhardt, who relieved Stephanie of her now-ex husband. And just to complicate things, she’s being stalked by a trigger-happy woman claiming to be married to bounty hunter-turned-security consultant Ranger.
But things are not what they appear, and somehow Ranger - a man about as traceable as Batman - has fallen victim to an identity thief. But this thief wants Ranger’s whole existence ... including his daughter. And Stephanie.
I can’t seem to recall too much about the last few books in this series, maybe because I haven’t read them as often as the first eight or so, or maybe not. I can say for certain that with Twelve Sharp the series has taken a turn for the better. Evanovich is always good for a laugh, and number twelve is memorable as well as funny. The bad guy is believable, Trenton’s eccentrics are out in force, and Stephanie’s annoying sister Valerie is thankfully absent. Still going strong is the outrageous Grandma Mazur, ageing disgracefully and loving every minute of it, and nearly giving her son-in-law a coronary in the process. This time she’s joining Lula in embarking on a singing career in the band led by the cross-dressing Salvatore Sweet.
Some readers (e.g. my mother) might be frustrated by Stephanie’s continuing inability to choose between Ranger and homicide cop Joe Morelli, but I can appreciate that the indecision serves a dramatic purpose and, hell, I’d have trouble choosing too. Though I did question her habit of getting within stun-gun range of the bad guy. You’d think that after the first time or two she’d have learnt. And the work-related trips through a porn shop are possibly not for the prudish.
Flaws aside, Twelve Sharp is a devilishly funny book with plenty of crime-induced tension.