December 9, 2015

Book Review || Tricky Twenty-Two

Tricky Twenty-Two
Stephanie Plum #22
Janet Evanovich

Published: 16 Nov, 2015

Headline, Trade, 280p.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-0165-2

Something big is brewing in Trenton, New Jersey, and it could blow at any minute.

Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played.  Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), the unofficial student leader of the notorious Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College.  Gobbles has missed his court date and has gone into hiding.  People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk.  Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college.

As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug LInken.  When Linken is gunned down in his backyard, the list of possible murder suspects is long.  The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Kinked, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve...

NOTE: this will contain SPOILERS as I can't avoid them if I want to give you a full run down of what I thought of this book.

So much happened in this book that I almost don't know where to start.   After having numerous problems with the declining quality over the last couple of years, I was half dreading this book.  Thankfully Evanovich has really upped her game and addressed some of the issues that were becoming a real problem with the series.

The main change comes with character development.  Two major changes occur in Tricky Twenty-Two.  Firstly, in a twist I couldn't have anticipated, Morelli dumps Stephanie!  Yes, the hot Italian cop dropped this bomb out of the blue - and thought that the time to tell her they should see other people was while they were in bed... right after they'd had sex! So, for the rest of the book Stephanie and Morelli are broken up - for mysterious reasons that he's not telling anyone!  I was so shocked to read this that I literally stared at that paragraph for a good 2 minutes.  24 hours later, and I was still having trouble getting my mind around this!

Secondly, is the rethink of Stephanie's continued klutziness in recapturing FTA's.  In the first couple of books, Stephanie was a newbie bounty hunter, so of course we were expecting her to be totally inept.  However, when it was still happening in Eleven on Top it was becoming monotonous to have your main character as the comic relief.  She was still getting thrown into tables of food - or garbage bins! - and the only person more inept than Stephanie was Lula.  She's been at this for years now and so I would expect that she should have gained some skills!  It's not good to have your female lead to always be rescued by the hot ex-Special Forces guy.  So when I read that not only was Stephanie able to rescue herself, and another character, as well as take down the lawn mowing FTA in short order, I took heart that perhaps some of Stephanie's shortcomings regarding this issue will finally be rectified.

As well as the above major plot points, here are a few other changes that I took note of:
  • Mrs Plum tackles the killer - and beats the crap out of him! - and finally admits that she gets why Stephanie doesn't quit.  Yes, it's only taken 22 books (and 20 years) for Stephanie to get some validation.
  • Stephanie actually baked a cake... and it was edible!  She didn't really find it a fulfilling experience, but she did it!
  • Self defence and firearm training is now on Stephanie's to-do list (or so she says).
  • Morelli and Stephanie are finally more open to getting married at some stage in the future.
  • Surprising health issues raised for Morelli.  This is the issue that sends his relationship with Stephanie into splitsville.
  • Ella tells Stephanie that she is the only woman to come to Ranger's place!
  • We finally get a reason for Lula being such a terrible shot.  She has glasses that she won't wear as it's not a good fashion choice.
  •  Sexual tension between Stephanie and Ranger is a little bland.  A hint of things to come, or just the calm before the storm?

I took all of these as a sign that I should not give up on this series.  After all, I have been reading this series for nearly 12 years, and I have invested far too much time, energy - not to mention money! - to give up on Stephanie, Ranger and Morelli now.  Evanovich has made a few seemingly minor, but much needed, tweeks that pretty much guarantee I will be looking forward to Book 23 all that much more.

Stephanie Plum is a great series if you want something that's fast, straight forward, uncomplicated, funny and light to read.  While I love the earlier books more, Tricky Twenty-Two lets me believe that there is still some get up and go in this series.

Until next time,

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