One for the Money 10/18/2007
Two for the Dough 11/19/2007
Three to get Ready 11/24/2007
Four to Score 11/25/2007
High Five 11/26/2007
Hot Six 12/6/2007
Seven Up 3/10/2008
Hard Eight 3/11/2008
To the Nines 3/16/2008
Ten Big Ones 3/17/2008
Eleven on Top 5/2/2008
Twelve Sharp 5/12/2008
Lean Mean Thirteen 5/13/2008
Fearless Fourteen 8/18/2008
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen 9/25/2009
Sizzling Sixteen 11/4/2011
Smokin' Seventeen 11/11/2011
Explosive Eighteen 2/1/2012 * * * *
"Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 from Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, she’s flying back to New Jersey solo, and someone who sounds like Sasquatch is snoring in row 22. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. The FBI, the fake FBI, and guns-for-hire are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
Only one other person has seen the missing photograph—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.
Over at the Bail Bonds Agency it’s business as usual—until the bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke, Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their “largest” FTA yet, lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?!
Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated."
Explosive Eighteen is another riotous romp through Stephanie Plum's life - or what's left of it upon her return from her "vacation" in Hawaii, and I have to say that it was much better than the last few books in the series. A good plot, decent pacing, and hilarious hijinks all collide to create a fun, funny, and light-hearted reading experience.
Although I really do believe that with the series closing in on 20 novels, we as readers need something new from the author. The stories are starting to feel more than a little recycled, and Stephanie needs to make a decision between Morelli and Ranger already. I realize that both men love her in their own ways, but at some point it begins to feel unrealistic that the two men just let her bounce back and forth between the two of them. The stories are becoming predicitable - you know that Lula's going to be on some new diet, Grandma Mazur (who I ADORE) is going to cause a ruckus at a funeral, and Stephanie is going to somehow destroy a car - but not necessarily her own. It's all great fun the 10 or 15 times, but with the framework of the stories beginning to feel stale, how much longer can it continue?
However, the central mystery in Explosive Eighteen was not stale, and quite a bit better than some others in the series. Upon returning home from the airport, Stephanie finds a mystery photo in her carry-on bag, and throws it away. Suddenly people are crawling out of the woodwork trying to get that photo, now that she no longer has it. But who is the mystery man, and why does everyone want his photo?
I'm giving Explosive Eighteen 4 stars, because is spite of my issues with the series, this novel felt more fun and humorous, which made it a nice, light, enjoyable read.
Have you read Explosive Eighteen yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!