Stephanie Plum, Trenton’s gift to skip tracing (Explosive Eighteen, 2011, etc.), takes on a terrorist threatening a bridal pair, the sinister forces behind multiple disappearances from Central Hospital and the usual glut of Failures to Appear.
Nobody ever said fugitive apprehension was easy, and Stephanie, accompanied by her sometime partner, Lula, the most hilariously uninhibited sidekick in mystery fiction, begins this installment by watching her pursuit of Melvin Barrel (possession with intent to sell) blow up in her face, along with her car. Luckily, there are always more FTA’s, from 50-something widow Dottie Luchek (soliciting) to state legislator Elwood Pitch (human trafficking) to homeless Brody Logan (attacking a police cruiser with a hammer). But one fugitive stands out: Geoffrey Cubbin, accused of embezzling $5 million from Cranberry Manor, who was checked into Central Hospital for an emergency appendectomy before disappearing as completely as his appendix. It turns out that he’s only the latest of Dr. Craig Fish’s patients to vanish from Central, and pint-sized security chief Randy Briggs is not amused. Over at the swanky end of town, Stephanie forsakes her main squeeze, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, to accompany Morelli’s rival, Ranger, to a reception at which his old Special Forces comrade Robert Kinsey is to speak. Kinsey and his fiancee, Amanda Olesen, have been getting anonymous threats. So has Ranger, who wants Stephanie to go undercover as a bridesmaid at the wedding. In addition to juggling her usual plus-sized caseload, Stephanie careens back and forth between the two men in her life: “Morelli was an amazing lover, but Ranger was magic.”
The usual generous mixture of transparent mystery, R-rated fantasies and standup comedy—paced like a Road Runner cartoon drawn out to feature length—that makes Evanovich the gold standard of her subgenre.