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Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum, #20)Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series:    Stephanie Plum
Publisher:    Bantam
Release Date:   November 18, 2013
Category:   Comedy, Mystery, Romance
Setting:  New Jersey
Author Website:      http://www.evanovich.com/

About series:
Stephanie Plum is just an average girl who grew up in a tight knit neighborhood in New Jersey where families usually consist of a mixture of cops and mobsters. Stephanie falls on some hard financial times and the only job she can get at her Cousin Vinnie’s Bond office is as a bounty hunter. The majority of Stephanie’s cases involve skip traces, which is just picking up people who missed their court date. But in every book, Stephanie manages to cross paths with a murder and suddenly she is knee deep in a serious bounty hunting.  Luckily Stephanie has a long list of friends that always turn up to help her out in a pinch and the bad guys never win.

About this book:
Takedown Twenty is a great Stephanie Plum book. You’ll laugh as you see all the familiar characters. Stephanie is the Lucille Ball of bounty hunting. You can’t help but like her no matter what kind of mess she gets in.  But after twenty books, I can diagram a Stephanie Plum book like an English sentence. Each book has its nouns, verbs, and direct objects. And there are only so many ways you can organize them.

Each book begins with the introductions of the nouns… the usual cast of characters. We meet: broke Stephanie, spandex wearing Lula, dark and hunky Ranger, sexy cop Joe Morelli, efficient office manager Connie, sleazy cousin Vinnie, cursing-gypsy Grandma Bella, and funeral-viewing-attendee Grandma Mazur. Each of these characters has their standard introductions and I bet if I carefully reviewed the first three chapters of the last three Stephanie Plum books I’d find that each varies by less than five words. I believe I have Lula’s introduction memorized.

Next we need the verbs. There is going to be the death of at least one car. Usually by a bomb but fire and crushing have become popular options as well. There is going to be an attempt on Stephanie’s life. That will involve some kind of kidnapping and near-miss at killing her. Stephanie will walk away bloodied and bandaged but yet she still rolls out of bed the next morning and somehow continues to find the killer. There will be multiple minor skips which have done everything from shoplifting to parking tickets and they will always require several attempts to apprehend. Stephanie will lose handcuffs, forget to charge her stun gun, or not have bullets in her real gun, giving even the less than intelligent criminals every chance to get away.

Finally, we have the direct objects.  I know that the Plum books involve comedy and mystery, but I don’t think it is a surprise that the majority of readers are in it for the romance. The object of the romance is Joe and Ranger. Joe is the bad boy turned good. And Ranger is the good bad boy. I can argue a case for Stephanie to end up with either of these guys and be happy and content with that decision. But Stephanie can’t. In the last three books alone, the romance portion of the book is Stephanie complaining that she can’t decide between these two men. If my real life best friend went on this long about a guy I’d buy her a drink at our favorite bar and then I’d go home. I’m tired of hearing about it. We read romance novels because we want the happy ending. After twenty books with Stephanie, I think we deserve the happy ending. Just because Stephanie gets married doesn’t mean the Plum world has to go away. (Evanovich has already successfully had one spin off in the Wicked series with Lizzy and Diesel.) But as a reader I can sense Evanovich’s (or more likely her publisher’s) reluctance to let this cash cow go. Three books now have hinted about some change in Stephanie’s love life status. If it takes four or more books to get her engaged how long will it take to actually get her married? I don’t think I can hang on that long.

As a reader, I want characters I love to grow and mature. I’m not seeing that from Stephanie. She is still the same girl she was when we started. I know time works differently in her world but the first Plum book came out in 1994.  I hope that Evanovich is planning/writing an exit strategy. I don’t want to be disappointed with the last Plum book, or have sales drop off so much that there just isn’t another Plum book.

Learn more about the Stephanie Plum series (in order written):

  1. One for the Money
  2. Two for the Dough
  3. Three to Get Deadly
  4. Four to Score
  5. High Five
  6. Hot Six
  7. Seven Up
  8. Hard Eight
  9. Visions of Sugar Plums (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
  10. To the Nines
  11. Ten Big Ones
  12. Eleven on Top
  13. Twelve Sharp
  14. Plum Lovin’ (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
  15. Lean Mean Thirteen
  16. Plum Lucky (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
  17. Fearless Fourteen
  18. Plum Spooky (between-the-numbers novel)
  19. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
  20. Sizzling Sixteen
  21. Smokin’ Seventeen
  22. Explosive Eighteen
  23. Notorious Nineteen
  24. Takedown Twenty
  25. Top Secret Twenty-One (Coming June 17, 2014)
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