If you’re a Stephanie Plum fan, you know what a riot this character is. If you’re not familiar with this series, let me give you a little background because you can very easily read Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich without having read the prior sixteen novels. And, if you’re looking for a good laugh with lots of action this summer then this just might be the book for you.
“I’m average height. I have an okay shape. I’m pretty sure I’m averagely intelligent. And I know for sure I have a crummy job…and I have an excellent nose that’s a gift from God. Good thing he gave me the nose before he found out I wasn’t the world’s best Catholic.”
Stephanie Plum lives in Trenton, New Jersey, the town she grew up in. Her Italian/Hungarian family lives in the Burg and includes her retired dad, who drives a cab just to get away from the house; her long-suffering mother, who irons when she’s upset and believes the answer to everything is to feed everyone; and her tiny powerhouse of a grandmother, Grandma Mazur, who is a real pistol and loves to go to funeral home viewings so she can see the bodies.
“’I might have tried to get the [coffin] lid up, but it was nailed closed, and then I sort of knocked over a vase of flowers onto the dearly departed’s wife, and she got a little wet.’” Grandma Mazur explaining why she and Stephanie are being kicked out of the funeral home again.
Stephanie is still single but she’s in two relationships. The first one is with Joe Morelli, an Italian cop who was the high school stud. The second one is with Ranger, a Latino who runs a high-powered security firm named Rangeman. If she could just combine them into one man, with each one’s best qualities, her problem of which to pick would be solved.
“I appreciated the compliment, but truth is Morelli thinks everything I wear is sexy. Morelli has testosterone oozing out of every pore.”
Stephanie? Well, Stephanie is a well-meaning, adorable klutz who works for her sleazy cousin, Vinnie, tracking down the folks who skip bail. Now that sentence, and other things in this review, may make it look like Stephanie is a helpless woman who has to be rescued. Underneath her soft exterior, Stephanie has a spine of steel and could out stubborn Grandma Mazur and Gradma Bella! She may be little and cute, and not very strong, but she is one determined lady, and that’s one of the reasons I love this character.
Also working at Vinnie’s bail bonds company are Connie, who literally holds the place together, and Lula, an ex-prostitute who has a great fondness for designer clothing several sizes too small and heels several inches too high. Lula is supposed to be the file clerk but she loves to ride along when Stephanie goes out to catch bail jumpers. Pairing Lula and Stephanie was brilliant on Janet Evanovich’s part, and creates pure laugh-out-loud slapstick – they have guns, mace, tasers, and handcuffs, and can rarely figure out how to use them.
“’Working at Rangeman is a high-stress job, and you’re one of our few sources of comic relief. I give you a car and my men start a pool on how long it will take you to trash it. You’re a line item in my budget under entertainment.’” Ranger persuading Stephanie to borrow one of his cars.
When Smokin’ Seventeen opens, Vinnie’s business has burned to the ground and as the construction crew begins demolition so they can rebuild, they start to turn up dead bodies. Not just any dead bodies, mobster dead bodies. Dwoops! Is there a serial killer loose in Trenton or did these wise guys just tick off some bigger predator?
If that isn’t bad enough, Stephanie’s mom is still trying to fix her up with a good catch so she can get Stephanie married off and start getting some grandchildren. This latest guy is an amazing cook but he can’t seem to take a hint that she isn’t interested, no matter how extreme she gets about letting him know. The guy is either a stalker or he’s dumber than a post.
And to make matters even worse, Morelli’s nasty Sicilian grandmother, Grandma Bella, has cursed Stephanie with vordo and put the evil eye on her. And it seems to be working. Add to that the usual crop of loony tunes bail jumpers, including a geriatric self-proclaimed vampire, and you can imagine that Smokin’ Seventeen is one hell of a romp! Thank you Janet Evanovich!
“Lula hauled herself up off the floor and put her hand to her neck. ‘Do I got holes? Am I bleeding? Do I look like I’m turning into a vampire?’…’No, no, and no,’ I told her. ’He doesn’t have his teeth in. He was just gumming you.’”
As a heads up: The next Stephanie Plum novel, Explosive Eighteen, is scheduled to be released in November, 2011.
If you’ve read Smokin’ Seventeen, any of the Stephanie Plum novels, or anything by Janet Evanovich, we’d love to get your comments. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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