A version of this review also ran in Sunday’s The Oklahoman.
Sharp-tongued, gun-shy New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum returns for another fast, fun read in Janet Evanovich’s “Fearless Fourteen” (St. Martin’s Press, $27.95).
The latest installment brings back one of my favorite supporting characters, Mooner. The resident stoner of Stephanie’s high school class, Mooner has a habit of meandering into her life and inciting chaos.
The zany story starts when Stephanie tries to capture another former classmate, Loretta Rizzi, who is charged with robbing a liquor store. Loretta threatens to commit suicide unless Stephanie promises to care for her teenage son, Zook.
The bounty hunter stashes the boy in the home of her cop boyfriend Morelli, one of Zook’s distant cousins. The arrangement gets complicated when Loretta’s brother, Dom gets out of prison.
Ten years ago, Dom was one of four men to pull off a bank heist, and the only one to serve time. Dom furiously claims that Morelli’s house, which the cop inherited from their Aunt Rose, was supposed to be willed to him.
Rumors fly that Dom hid a clue leading to the bank robbery money in the old house. Soon, people are breaking in to find the cash – and some of them are dying. And, Loretta disappears as soon as she gets out of jail.
Stephanie must track down Loretta and the money if she wants to restore peace and safety to her crazy life.
Along the way, Stephanie’s mentor/ex-lover Ranger talks her into providing security for a brash, aging diva. The singer in turn cons Stephanie and her bumbling sidekick Lula into starring in a reality TV show about bounty hunting.
Evanovich doesn’t take full advantage of the timely reality show setup, and she lets the novel slowly drift toward predictability by the end.
The best days of the series are back around Book 6, but the latest adventure still offers the hilarious dialogue, colorful and madcap antics fans have come to expect from Evanovich’s books.