REVIEW by @Fidget78: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (@janetevanovich)

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 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. 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. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
Only one other person has seen the missing photo—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 things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip 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.
The Stephanie Plum series has been on my must read list for a while.  I took a break from reading for almost 4 years.  Yep, can’t believe I did that.  When I did begin reading again, I had lost my love for the historical romance genre.  I just began browsing on different websites and one of the first books I read after my hiatus was One for the Money, the first of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I was absolutely delighted to be reading a book and laughing out loud.  My family thought I was nuts.  Well, I am a bit but Stephanie’s exploits just helped things along.  I’ve been a steadfast Stephanie Plum/Janet Evanovich fan ever since.  How often can you say one book by one author completely changed your life.  This series did it for me.

Having said all that, this series seems to be dragging a bit.  The characters are zany, weird and funny but we’re at book eighteen and not much has changed since the first one.  This was the first book in a while that made me laugh out loud again but overall, I expected more.  Explosive Eighteen picks up where the previous novel left off, almost.  The opening had me thinking, great, this is gonna be a fantastic read, but it was just all right (for me).  As in previous works, Ms Evanovich, has Stephanie in some very strange situations and dithering back and forth between Joe Morelli and Ranger.  Grandma, Vinnie, and Lula still provide the comic relief along with Stephanie’s propensity to get in the worst possible situations while trying to collar a “skip”.  You would think at book eighteen, Stephanie would have at least improved somewhat as a bounty hunter.  She hasn’t and maybe that’s become part of the problem with this series.  There’s no forward movement on anything.  The characters aren’t growing, the story lines sound the same and the Ranger/Morelli/Stephanie triangle is still in place and going nowhere we can see.
While I will probably read the next in the series just “to see” if anything changes, I don’t eagerly await each book as I did in the past.
3 Stars  (a very weak 3, as I still have hope for this series)

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  1. boomergrl49 says:

    As someone who has read every book in this series, I agree with you 100%. Spot on, Dolly. Great review!

  2. Thanks Beth. it’s so awkward when you start out loving an author’s series and it just stagnates. Such high hopes for every book and then, Ugh!!

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