Stephanie Plum, Trenton’s dizziest, most dysfunctional skip tracer, has papers on a couple of wacko Failure to Appears, but fat Marty Paulson and skinny Andy Bender are humdrum bizarros compared to the sociopath about to enter her life: loan shark/murderer Eddie Abruzzo, whom Steph perceives as a “total fruitcake” the instant her fear and trembling subside. “I know how to make women uncomfortable,” he tells her, and does she ever believe him. Next to torturing and killing, military history is Eddie’s driving passion, and now his authentic Napoleon medal has gone missing. When he becomes convinced on flimsy evidence that if Steph doesn’t have the medal, she knows who does, she finds herself in a war of nerves with an implacable enemy who’s part Clausewitz and part clown, from sorties by Abruzzi soldiers in the masks of ex-presidents to an attack by a homicidal rabbit—a hit man winsomely decked out in a bunny suit, from whom Steph escapes when Mama Plum, rising to the moment, counterattacks furiously in the family Buick. Meanwhile, Steph’s love life remains unresolved as slinky colleague Ranger Manoso and hunky detective Joe Morelli continue their kinky game of ping-pong-Plum with Lady Bounty Hunter getting paddled.
Watch out for plot holes big enough to drive that Buick through. True, charm has always been more important than plot to this series, but in her eighth trip to the plate (Seven-Up, 2001, etc.), Steph’s ditzy allure may be withering before the curse of familiarity. For loyalists only.