The second entry in a female action/romance/humor series for fans who find Stephanie Plum’s megaselling annual appearances (Twelve Sharp, 2006, etc.) too infrequent.
As his recent dalliance with a salesclerk attests, Sam Hooker is a womanizing cheat. But there’s nothing wrong with his skills as a racing driver, or with the vehicle he’s just piloted to a second-place finish for Stiller Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So Alexandra “Barney” Barnaby (Metro Girl, not reviewed), his race-day spotter and sometime lover, figures the winning driver, Spanky Bonnano, of Huevo Motor Sports, must have had some sort of illegal edge, and she wants to know what it was. If only Barney, who’s a trained mechanic, could get a look at the winning car, she’s sure she could find evidence of cheating. All too soon she gets her wish. Gobbles Warner, another Stiller spotter, phones to say that he’s gotten himself locked into the truck containing the suspect race-car and doesn’t dare call for help to the Huevo employees outside. Barney and Hooker rush to rescue him by stealing the whole truck, but things get deliciously worse when Gobbles turns out to be sharing storage space with the murdered Oscar Huevo. “I hate dead guys,” opines Hooker. “Especially when . . . they’re in a hauler I just stole.” Even though two more murders will spice up the increasingly wild-eyed proceedings, Barney insists gamely that “I’m not Nancy Drew.” Wrong. In her indifference to clues and detection, her tropism for unsought adventures and her constant brushes with danger, Barney is Nancy Drew in a pink lace thong, with a studly NASCAR driver standing in for Ned Nickerson.
About the only person Barney resembles more closely than Nancy Drew, in fact, is Stephanie Plum: the raffish associates, the outlandish scrapes, the sexed-up romance, the smart mouth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.