The latest in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Smokin’ Seventeen is a black comedy of sorts, a crime thriller with a touch of the surreal. Stephanie is a bail bonds bounty hunter – she catches people who have skipped their court date after her boss has put up the bail for them. So it’s not exactly a normal job, which would account for Stephanie’s not exactly normal coworkers – Lula, the ex-hooker bounty hunter, Connie, the office clerk with a caffeine habit, Mooner, who has supplied temporary accommodation for the office in a bus that smells of pot (don’t touch the brownies!) and Vince, the boss, with questionable taste in advertising campaign material. Still, when a dead body turns up in the empty lot formerly occupied by the bail bonds office (now burnt down), even Stephanie and her colleagues are a bit flummoxed. Who is it? Why was he buried here? Who killed him and – two days later – why is there another body found in the same lot?
On top of that, one of the bail bonds’ clients had to put up a dancing bear as security for the loan, while another seems to have it in for Stephanie and takes every opportunity to try to run her down. And if that was not enough, Stephanie’s mother and grandmother are putting on the pressure for her to settle down and get married. Trouble is, Stephanie has two lovers, and can’t choose between them. Not to mention the matchmaking being done by her mother, introducing the dashing Dave, ex-football hero and great cook, but who happens to have a touch of the stalker about him.
All these ingredients are cooked together by Janet Evanovich into a delicious cocktail of a book. Perhaps not in the martini end of the spectrum, but definitely one of those colourful drinks with an umbrella on top. In fact, it would be ideal to grab one of those cocktails to settle in with Stephanie Plum. You’ll be glad you did.
Smokin’ Seventeen is available now: Hachette Australia RRP $19.99