“Nothing defeats us in Jersey,” says Stephanie Plum—not smog, the Mob, heart-threatening cuisine, or, this time, a killer who’s set his sights on Trenton’s least likely bounty hunter (Hard Eight, 2002, etc.).
The case looks routine compared to Stephanie’s last assignment: wrestling with a naked car thief who’d coated himself with Vaseline to avoid capture. Samuel Singh, whose visitor’s visa had been bonded by Stephanie’s cousin and boss Vincent Plum, has disappeared, together with his promise to marry Nonnie Apusenja, his landlady’s daughter, and Boo, his landlady’s dog. By the time Vincent traces his quarry to Las Vegas, however, three others have already died, with every indication (playfully threatening notes accompanying floral tributes, taunting e-mails, the occasional tranquilizing dart) that Stephanie will be next. Wrong. Samuel himself is next, leaving Stephanie in her role as designated victim—assuming she can get time off from dealing with her eternal romantic partners, Trenton cop Joe Morelli and industrial-strength skip-tracer Ranger Manoso, both eager as ever to bed her (and vice-versa); her hugely pregnant sister Valerie, who’s threatening to have her baby any minute if she can just stop guzzling gravy; and the other cast regulars badly in need of their own tranquilizing darts.
The plot is—as usual—a shambles, but the people and their dialogue are as sharp and funny as ever. Though no high point in Stephanie’s saga, this installment, like a weekly sitcom fix, won’t disappoint her fans either.