Title: Explosive Eighteen
Author: Janet Evanovich
Series: Stephanie Plum #18
Pages: 352 (2012 total – 6,537)
Approx. Word Count: 88,000 (2012 total – 1,814,214)
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Categories: humor, romantic adventure
Source: personal copy
Rating: 3 out of 5
Back of the book:
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.
After a string of 4 or 5 lackluster books, I feel like Evanovich has managed to breathe at least a little bit of new life into this stale series. Some things haven’t changed – Stephanie’s still not the greatest bounty hunter, has horrible luck with cars, and can’t make up her mind about either Morelli OR Ranger. Though after her disastrous Hawaiian vacation, she’s not particularly anxious to be face-to-face with either of them.
Stephanie actually does a fairly good job of fending for herself in this one, fighting off fake FBI agents and apartment intruders with no outside help. Unfortunately, this also meant we didn’t see nearly enough of either guy. And I could do with a little bit less Lula. She’s actually managed to become a caricature of herself, all tight clothes and buckets of chicken.
As for the mystery of what’s in the photo, I found that part of the plot more than a little implausible. It felt like Evanovich was making a jump into technology that she really wasn’t prepared for.
I think it’s going to take a lot to get this series back to where it was at its peak, but this one was entertaining enough to keep me reading until the end. But maybe Stephanie can find some personal growth in the next one?
- “I am getting off the crazy train. If I want to read cars getting blown up, her sneaky snarkness, and some hot glimpses of two actual men…I’ll read the early plum books.” – Badass Book Reviews
- “This is the worst Stephanie Plum yet; I’m so disappointed.” — Peppermint Ph.D.
- “If you’re looking for an entertaining read filled with mishaps, explosions/fires, funerals, mysterious people turning up in Stephanie’s apartment and Stephanie stuck between her love for two men this would be your read.” — Mrs Q: Book Addict
2011: Heads You Lose (Lisa Lutz & David Hayward)
2010: What Do We Do Now? (Keith Malley & Chemda)
2009: Soul Catcher (Michael C. White)
2008: Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
2007: Full House (Janet Evanovich)
2006: Judgement in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: The Sigma Protocol (Robert Ludlum)