Series: Stephanie Plum #21
Published by Bantam on June 17, 2014
Length: 305 pages
Reviewing eBook from Amazon
Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she’ll pull it all off: top secret.
Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.
To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.
Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.
Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich is the latest installment of the Stephanie Plum series and I was pleasantly surprised. This story revolves around the case of the dying poker players. Stephanie is assigned to bring in Jimmy Poletti when he misses his court date, but one calamity after another keeps her from catching him. Then there’s the problem of Randy Briggs. Someone is trying to kill him and he asks Stephanie for help. And to make matters even worse, Ranger’s life is on the line when an assassin tries and fails to kill him. Oh and let’s not forget Grandma Mazur’s bucket list!
As fellow readers of the series can tell you, the last few installments (at least the last 4 or 5) have fell flat for me. Just okay plots, mediocre jokes, and love triangle from hell. But I’ve stuck with it and continued reading them because I’ve not invested nearly 15 years in reading a series to not see it through to the end! Well, let me just say kudos to the author for bringing back the characters and plot to what made me initially love the series.
Ranger smiled. “There are times when I seriously consider marrying you, but then I get yet another black mark on my path to enlightenment and forgiveness and I scratch marriage off my bucket list.”
The plot is well-thought out and for the first time in a long while with this series I wasn’t able to guess with any accuracy what was going to happen! I was wrong on all accounts which made me love the book even more. It’s full of suspense and humor, classic to the early installments of the series and made me nostalgic for my first encounter with Stephanie Plum when she was chasing Joe Morelli in book one! There are three main threads in the plot: poker player murders, Randy Briggs, and Ranger’s assassin. Two of the three tie themselves together in a sloppy bow and then the book culminates with the other thread.
And then who can forget Grandma Mazur?! She gets a paragraph all to herself. I love this character! She reminds me of my great-grandmother, independent and spunky as all get out. In this book, Grandma Mazur decides to make a bucket list and she actually does a few of the items from the list. I’ll leave you with one quote from her about it…
“It was mesmerizing,” Grandma said. “It was like staring into the eye of a cobra. I don’t care if I do anything else on the bucket list. This was awesome. It was like a biblical experience.”
Overall, if you are a fan of the series or if you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s like a cupcake, quick to consume, leaves you feeling light-hearted and wanting more. You will laugh until you cry and then laugh some more. It’s a mix of mystery, suspense, humor, and women’s lit at its best. And best of all if you are new to the series, it can be read as a stand alone. The author gives enough information about the characters that you will not be lost. However after you read this one, go back and start with number one 🙂