It's not summertime without a new Stephanie Plum book to spice up those warm, lazy days. Which must be why I always end up on an airplane seated next to some hapless stranger who has to listen to me giggle, chuckle, and possibly even titter during the entire plane trip. There's only so far you can inch away from such an annoying travel partner as I am when I'm reading a Stephanie Plum novel, particularly when you're seated in economy. I admit to feeling unrepentant.
In this installment of the series, Lula bursts into the bail bond office, astonishing Stephanie (inept but well-meaning bounty hunter) and Connie (the office manager) with her tale of having just witnessed a murder. As she was sitting in her Firebird, a man was decapitated right before her eyes. Lula tears away in her car before the surprised murderers can do more than stare after her. It turns out that the two men got a good look at the car, however, and it isn't long before Lula is being terrorized with potshots taken at the Firebird, among other dastardly deeds.
Meanwhile, someone is burglarizing homes monitored by Rangeman security, and Ranger asks Stephanie for help in catching the perpetrator. Unfortunately, all signs point to it being an inside job. Stephanie is grateful for the extra money - although the prospect of spending so much time with the unbelievably attractive Ranger when she and Morelli are on the outs does make her a bit nervous.
Then the decapitated man is identified as Stanley Chipotle, celebrity chef - and his sponsor offers a million-dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the killers. Lula hatches a plan (aided and abetted by Grandma Mazur) to compete in the Chipotle-sponsored barbecue cook-off as a way of going undercover to catch the killers and nab that reward money. (Of course, it would help if they could actually make edible barbecue without anything catching on fire.)
In typical Stephanie Plum style, the absurd plot strands wiggle all over the place, cris-crossing in in surprising and hilarious ways, and come together in a very satisfying conclusion. Opening a Stephanie Plum novel always feels like opening the door to some good friends I haven't seen in a while - I love spending time with them, catching up on the Burg and its doings, and getting some good laughs along the way. If laughter gives the immune system a boost, then I should be in excellent health for a while!
Books in the Stephanie Plum series:
1. One for the Money
2. Two for the Dough
3. Three to Get Deadly
4. Four to Score
5. High Five
6. Hot Six
7. Seven Up
8. Hard Eight
9. To the Nines
10. Ten Big Ones
11. Eleven on Top
12. Twelve Sharp
13. Lean Mean Thirteen
14. Fearless Fourteen
15. Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Finger Lickin' Fifteen (#15 in the Stephanie Plum series) by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press, 2009)
Also reviewed at:
Bookworm Barista: "For those of you who follow the series like I do - you won't be let down. Well you might be let down at how quickly you read the book."
Lesa's Book Critiques: " I thought it was the funniest book of the series since one of the early ones when Grandma Mazur blew up a funeral home."
Redlady's Reading Room: "For me, these books are fun, escape reading that I always enjoy. I look forward to the quirky cast of characters and situations that they get themselves into."