I'm always delighted when a new Janet Evanovich book comes out. When I get my copy, I drop whatever I'm reading and dive right in. Lean Mean Thirteen is, as the title suggests, the thirteenth one in the series. This is a series that is definitely best read in order - and that's easy to do because it starts with One for the Money and moves on in numerical order from there.
In the first book, Stephanie loses her job and stumbles into a new profession as a bounty hunter. She is not what you'd call the bounty-hunter type - she is a Jersey girl who is afraid of the gun she's issued (she keeps it in her cookie jar), and she manages to total (in a hilariously creative variety of ways) every car she ever drives. But the money's good - many of the FTAs (people who fail to appear for their court date) have simply forgotten about it, and they willingly go with her to reschedule. But the ones that don't want to be caught? That's where the fun begins.
I remember reading the second book in this series on a plane, and I just couldn't stop laughing. The more I tried to be quiet about it, the funnier it all seemed, and I giggled the whole way to my destination. When we were all waiting to get off the plane, about five people came over to ask what I'd been reading - I hope they found Evanovich as funny as I do!
In this installment, Stephanie's ex-husband disappears not long after she has a heated argument with him at his office. Her alibi for the time of his disappearance is a bit shaky, and when partners from his law firm start turning up dead, she worries that she's going to find herself arrested for his murder. She pairs up with sexy Ranger to look for her ex, while Morelli, her hot cop boyfriend, is stuck taking care of a police witness, unable to help. As usual Stephanie leaves massive destruction in her wake, as she navigates the perils of exploding stuffed animals, bombs, and flamethrower-wielding psychopaths, not to mention scary muscle men intent on her capture. She is tough and resourceful, pigheaded and impetuous, and she and ex-ho Lula - as well as her outspoken Grandma - make a wonderful team that will keep you laughing.
This is a lighthearted, face-paced series with memorable characters, unexpected plot twists, and a nice touch of romance, and Lean Mean Thirteen delivers the goods. Definitely the perfect beach, pool or plane read.
Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press, 2007)