Stephanie Plum, the least organized bounty hunter and holiday shopper (Hard Eight, 2002, etc.) in Trenton, New Jersey, has never much cared whether ’tis the season to be jolly. Nor is there much hope for this Yule, given the way it’s started. Steph’s sitting at her ease in her kitchen, sipping morning coffee, enjoying special time with Rex, her pet hamster, when “poof, there he was,” all six-feet-plus of him—blond wavy hair, dazzling smile, pecs out of the bodybuilder’s Hall of Fame, calling himself Diesel (just the one name, thanks). Sure, says Steph, but who is he? she wants to know; forgive her for not taking too seriously his claim to be “the friggin Spirit of Christmas.” Still, there’s definitely something strange about this spectral hunk. Unwilling to be a bounty hunter who’s not ready to accept fate’s occasional bounties, Steph enlists Diesel in hunting her latest Failure to Appear: a toy-maker named (brace yourself) Sandy Klaws. He’s wanted on a burglary charge, though it turns out there are extenuating circumstances. Off they go, Steph and her supercharged ad hoc sidekick, who, if he’s not actually extraterrestrial, is certainly extra sexy, as several Plum women attest. (Grandma Mazur: “A pip.” Sister Valerie: “Dang.”) Plotting gets short shrift in this thinnest of Plum puddings, but there’s one scene Steph’s fans won’t want to miss: the Jersey girl chased from a toy factory by a mob of enraged elves.
Not for everyone, but come all ye faithful.