All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich

on December 5, 2016

turbo-twenty-threeTurbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)
Janet Evanovich
Headline Review
2016, 304p
Copy courtesy of Hachette AUS via NetGalley

Blurb {from Goodreads.com}:

In the heart of Trenton, N.J., a killer is out to make sure someone gets his just desserts.

Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an eighteen-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body—frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans.

As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. It’s going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It’s also going to be hard to explain to Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger, late nights with Lula and Randy Briggs—who are naked and afraid—and late nights keeping tabs on Grandma Mazur and her new fella. Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have “virtually no marketable skills,” these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.

I know. I know.

I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve quit (or tried to) this series. It’s gone on so long now….I read the first 6 books back in 2000, so the series is probably over 20 years old. I’ve loved some, hated some, been ambivalent on others. Every time I’ve tried to say ok that’s it, that’s enough, not bothering anymore, somehow I end up getting dragged back in.

In saying that, this book was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been critical of some of the more recent books in the series for having so little plot and just being thinly held together by a string of “comedic” moments and weird animal interactions. Thankfully the comedic moments are toned down here and there isn’t a ridiculous animal moment that stands out (past ones involve a bear, giant spiders, geese and an alligator).

But this book shows some pretty strong threads of what I adored about the first half of the series. Stephanie is actually doing her job in this book (with varying degrees of success, as is expected) and she’s also going undercover for Ranger, who has been employed by an ice cream company to overhaul security. Shenanigans are going on and Ranger hopes that Stephanie might be able to uncover some information and she helps him out as it seems to be weirdly connected to one of her FTA’s and because she needs the money. Stephanie always needs money. Apart from this job making Ranger and Rangeman look slightly incompetent, which is weird, because Ranger is always presented as being half a step away from magic, it was pretty decent. Stephanie going undercover locally seemed implausible, given her notoriety but this is addressed and not just left as a plot hole which is good.

In terms of the love triangle…..I didn’t mind this one although there are some people that I think might find Stephanie’s behaviour a bit distasteful. Both Joe and Ranger are given kind of equal billing in this book and obviously Stephanie is no closer to a decision although Ranger does give her a bit of a home truth about Joe and whether or not his commitment to her is real. He makes a good point…..I’m never sure how much time is supposed to pass in Plum Land because even though time rolls on, Stephanie barely seems to age, but her and Joe and have been doing this dance for more than likely a few years now and have gotten precisely nowhere. “Engaged to be engaged” isn’t even a believable thing.

It’s funny because in the first few books, I was a Joe fan. Until the famous “Nice dress…..take it off” line when I realised that I wasn’t happy with who she’d chosen and all of a sudden it became about Ranger for me. I think that quite often the “Rangerbabes” get the short end of the stick because Ranger doesn’t do relationships and half the time the best they can hope for is some flirtatious banter or a stolen kiss in the alley beside the bonds office. Every now and then you get a book that drip feeds a little more, just enough to keep it simmering. And yet in the background Stephanie is pretty much always with Joe in some way or another. I’d love to see a pure Ranger book but I don’t expect that to ever happen because he’s been written in a way that suggests it never will unless he does a pretty epic backflip but I think it’d be an interesting dynamic to see him as the “boyfriend” and Joe as the bit on the side. But these books run to a formula and it’s been one that’s been very successful for Evanovich over the past 20 years.

To be honest, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I was going to. My curiosity and nostalgia for them keeps me coming back. Sometimes that works for me, like with this one. I actually thought it was pretty good, it kept me turning the pages and I liked the plot and the way that everything ended up playing out. There was a bit of Lula but not too much, which was good. Reading this actually made me think back on how much I adored these books, how they were the few books I always bought, even when I was a dirt poor student who could barely afford to feed herself properly.

7/10

Book #199 of 2016

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2 responses to “Review: Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich

  1. Tanja says:

    I haven’t gotten around to this one yet, but I love those books too and I keep hoping that the series will end with Stephanie and Ranger but more likely Evanovich will write as many books as she possibly can without ever resolving anything. And of course I’ll read every single one of them, they’re impossible to quit.

    • I agree. I don’t think she’ll ever resolve anything, just keep writing book after book adhering to the same formula. For every reader that departs the series frustrated with the lack of development there’s a new one just discovering them.

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