Tricky Twenty-Two: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Tricky Twenty-Two is the most recent in the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Her heroine, Stephanie Plum, is a bounty hunter who works for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman. Stephanie is accompanied through her challenging tasks of rounding up FTAs (Failure to Appear) by a series of characters that are played for humor rather than serious hunting.
Lula, an ex-“ho” rides shotgun when Stephanie is sent out in pursuit. Stephanie’s gun toting grandmother loves nothing more than a good funeral with a hot corpse; her mother spends all of her time worrying about Stephanie and making the sign of the cross when asking for help.
Two hot crime-chasers—Morelli, a Trenton detective; Ranger, a wealthy security specialist who helps out on the darker side of police work—are both romantic interests for Stephanie. Connie and Vinnie hold down the fort in the office—Connie in reception and Vinnie hiding behind his closed and locked door and yelling a lot.
In Tricky Twenty-Two Stephanie is called upon to track down a college student, Ken Globovic, aka Gobbles for failure to appear in court on charges of beating up a vice-dean at Kiltman College. Gobbles is associated with the Zeta frat house—the one that causes all of the trouble at the school.
But finding Gobbles is easier said than done, and while the search goes on, other tasks await Stephanie as well. In particular, Ranger hires her to help him at the wake of a murder victim, and it is not long before another murder occurs with the victim being the business associate of the first casualty. Of course, the two murders are linked.
As Stephanie continues her search for Gobbles, she encounters others at the school—Julie Ruley, Gobbles friend; Stanley Pooka, the Zeta counselor; vice-dean Mintner—each of whom either likes or dislikes Gobbles, but each of whom confuses the search.
With some digging, Stephanie soon learns that the previous two murder victims were both Zeta members when they attended Kiltman College, and the connection is made. When Mintner is found murdered on the grounds of Zeta, the noose tightens and the suspicion turns to Gobbles.
While still searching for Gobbles, Stephanie still must make a living, and she continues to search for other FTAs and while doing her job she is contacted by Gobbles who needs her help in proving his innocence.
She continues to gather information and nets important evidence that sheds light on another party. As she begins to follow these leads, she is captured and injected with a plague that the true villain plans to use to destroy the entire college, and Stephanie must use her best cunning style to prevent that from happening.
Evanovich’s writing style is fraught with humor. Her characters are well presented, and the reader experiences the interaction between them and Stephanie from the first person point of view. The language she uses in dialogue is true and conversational, painting a clear picture of who these people are and how they have arrived at their place in life. She uses dialect well in her character development, and this moves the story along at a good pace.
If there is anything that can be said with a negative tone, it’s that there almost seems to be too much “cute” humor. The moments of tension are often surrounded by this humor and take some of the crisis out of the story. One does not get a sense of Stephanie being in imminent danger, and often through the story she is saved by another character.
Having said that, however, it’s clear that humor is an easy style for Evanovich, and there are definitely moments of “laugh-out-loud” funny that are worth the read. (Look for the flying dildo if you really need a huge laugh!) For the reader interested in high tension, this is not the book to read. But for the reader looking for a quick-paced read and an interesting premise Tricky Twenty-Two is one to pick up.