All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich

on December 19, 2013

Takedown TwentyTakedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20)
Janet Evanovich
Bantam Books
2013, 295p
Read from my local library

Stephanie Plum once again needs another high bond skip so she can build up her bank account again although Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Although he’s been charged with running someone over (twice) the whole Burg loves him and no one wants to help Steph out with where he is. Not his poker friends, not his family, not his real estate girlfriend who just wants to get him to marry her, no one. Even Joe’s creepy Grandma Bella is putting the eye on Stephanie for trying to catch him. Uncle Sunny is part of their family – in fact he’s Stephanie’s boyfriend Joe’s godfather. Which means that Joe is burying his head in the sand and pretending that he doesn’t know that his family is potentially harbouring a fugitive.

Stephanie has plenty of other things to keep her occupied including a couple of other low level skips and the fact that security specialist Ranger Manoso has asked her to help him investigate the death of the mother of one of his top clients. The elderly lady was left in a dumpster and it’s not the first time this has happened recently. All of the ladies seemed to play bingo so Stephanie finds herself rolling up to the local bingo halls with Grandma Mazur and Lula to see if she can find anything out.

And then there’s a giraffe named Kevin.

You know Janet Evanovich, you’re making this almost too easy now. I loved this series so much and even though 14-18 were a hot mess, you kind of cheered me up with Notorious Nineteen. It wasn’t as good as the first ten but it wasn’t bad. It was a heck of an improvement on the previous few and so I had hope. Hope that this series was going to actually get back on track a little bit and stop being so depressingly ridiculous. Ha. You sure showed me. Because Takedown Twenty is so boring, so disappointing, so poorly written, so formulaic and so Three To Get Deadly rehashed that I’m embarrassed for me, the reader. At least I didn’t actually buy it. Thankfully, my local library supplies me with these now. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I didn’t love the character of Ranger so darn much, I’d have given up long ago. But given how inconsistent Ranger’s character was in this installment (apart from saying “Babe” fifty times in 295p he had no personality whatsoever) it might’ve been enough to wean me off this series forever.

Someone must’ve told the author that she no longer referenced previous events in this series because in this book we’re treated to both Ranger and Lula reminiscing about the time Stephanie crushed Ranger’s 911 Porshe with a garbage truck (which occurs in High Five) within a handful of pages. I wish someone would also steer her away from animals because quite frankly, she’s running out of animals and plausibility left the building long ago. Along with geese, spiders, a bear, a monkey, rats, an alligator and god knows what else we now get a giraffe that wanders the streets of Trenton. And it doesn’t even actually have a purpose (although what purpose could a giraffe have anyway). It just shows up occasionally and runs past and then Lula tries to feed it. And names it Kevin. Only a handful of people see it (seriously, I don’t know how anyone can miss an animal the size of a giraffe in suburbia for crying out loud, but there you have it) and it has no real relevance to the plot in any way shape or form. In fact if you took it out it could only improve the book.

I’ve hung on a long time with these books. I read them because I love Ranger so much and I’m always hopeful each book will be a Ranger book where there’s a little more Ranger than Morelli (this pretty much never happens). The last few books have had quite a bit of Ranger but not particularly in a positive way for Stephanie. She seems to be more indecisive then ever and so in the past few books she’s just slept with both of them. I didn’t really care too much because I thought any Ranger is good Ranger but after this book I can see that’s not true. I’m not sure what happened to Ranger in this book but it was definitely not like the Ranger of other books and even the scenes with Steph, the banter seemed so stilted and forced. The fun has totally gone out of it and Stephanie is just so ridiculous (she won’t take paid work for Rangeman in the office but she’ll quit her job to work in a butcher). If I was Stephanie I’d move into the fourth floor of Rangeman so fast even Ranger wouldn’t see me. She has so many opportunities to grow as a character but instead she regresses. Grandma Bella isn’t even funny anymore either, she’s just a rude old lady. The fact that the entire town ducks whenever they see her coming is just…weird.

There are people who say that with these books, you need to know what to expect. I’ve read them all, I’m well aware that there can be fabulous ones with the same formula. But that’s when the writing was good and the characterisation was strong and the bad guys were actually more bad than embarrassing. I shouldn’t have to expect sub par stories and even more sub par writing. But I do. And that’s why I’m breaking up with these books now. Time that it’s done. And to anyone who wants to read this one, I urge you to go back and read Three To Get Deadly. The plots are almost identical: Stephanie sent to track down an icon the town loves who ends up being not quite what he seems. That book does it much better, in more ways than one.

It’s always sad to farewell a favourite series. But it’s even sadder that I’m doing it because I can’t stand what it’s become anymore, rather than having it just end.

1/10

Book #326 of 2013

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7 responses to “Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich

  1. Danielle says:

    Oh, geez. I gave up after book #10 (I was a big Ranger fan too, and just got over having him dangled before me like a carrot on a stick). I wonder if she’s locked into a contract, or genuinely enjoys carrying on this series … I guess they must still make the NYT bestseller list?

    • Yes – that is exactly how I feel about Ranger! The potential of him is dangled in front of me but just out of reach. She’s still contracted (through to 22 from what I hear but they keep getting extended). It just reads like it is unedited, regurgitated stuff from prior books with food and/or weird animals to fill in any gaps. And yeah, I think they still do hit the bestsellers list but not for as long as they used to. It certainly doesn’t SEEM like she still loves this series. Actually it seems like she really doesn’t…..

  2. Jan says:

    I’ve read the first 3 or 4 of these and I did enjoy them but I’d heard they do get a bit samey so not sure I’ll be rushing out to read the rest.

  3. Marg says:

    Told you to let it go before you read this one!

  4. Elena says:

    Just finished reading Takedown Twenty. Disappointing…. Read all Stephanie Plum series and would expect more. I was checking for Stephanie Plum stories online and found out that the Janet Evanovich fanclub forum has better stories with some interesting swists to the Morelli/Stephanie/Ranger relationships than you get in a whole book. Ironically, some fans has better writting skills than Janet Evanovich.

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