I took a break from reading Stephanie Plum books for a while. The problem with a series like this is that while it was great lighthearted summer reading, when I read so many of them close together they began to get on my nerves. It was nice to go back to the series and enjoy it again, without as much eye-rolling.
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen has bounty hunter Stephanie and police officer Morelli taking a break from their relationship. They had a fight and although they aren’t officially broken up, they also haven’t been speaking to each other. However, since they all inhabit the same corner of New Jersey (Trenton) they tend to run into each other, a lot. That’s especially true after Lula, the former hooker who works in the Bail Bond office witnesses the beheading of a celebrity chef. She’s the only one who can identify the killers, and they know it.
The reason Stanley Chipotle came to Trenton in the first place was for a BBQ cook-off. Lula hears this and recruits Stephanie’s grandmother to enter the contest with her. However, neither of them has ever made their own barbeque sauce or even worked a grill.
While all this is going on, Ranger asks Stephanie for help. He’s former military, now running his own security firm, RangeMan. Someone has been managing to get around the alarms at several of his clients and steal from them. Ranger is afraid it’s an inside job, and wants Stephanie working a RangeMan to see if she can pick up on something with his employees that he can’t see.
I have to say that after taking a break for a bit, this was a lot of fun to come back to. Stephanie is the same as always. She’s at a point in her life where everything seems to be a dead-end. She’s working for her cousin as a bounty hunter bringing in skips, but it isn’t a career that will go much further than that. She lives in the same apartment with her hamster. Her relationship with Morelli may be over, but she’s not sure if she’s sad about that or not. Everything is stagnant for her. I think this is where the problem of the series was for me; in every book, she’s in the same spot and complaining about the same things and nothing ever changes. Maybe working for RangerMan would be good for her and allow her to expand her horizons a bit.
That’s not going to happen in this book, though, with the escapades of Lula and Grandma Mazur front and center. I think the humor of their situation is the best part of the story. They try something new. It’s a disaster. They decide it’s not for them, get some food and booze, and move on. Along the way there are a lot of great laughs.
The killers are also comically inept, as are the skips Stephanie is trying to find for her cousin, lest he decide to employ her arch-enemy to get them instead. These are the fun moments where Stephanie tries to be a professional but always fails. How many times is she going to fall for the “let me get a coat” line while the skip jumps out a window? It takes a while for her to catch on as she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Still, I found Finger Lickin’ Fifteen to be a light, funny read. It’s just enough escapism to be fun, without being as crazy as some of the other stories were. Stephanie’s family is here as well, and she manages to destroy a few cars along the way. Oh, and by the time the book is over, she and Morelli are back together. What more could you ask for?
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