Five Plum Reasons to Read Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich's Top Secret Twenty-One

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel was released (One For the Money hit the shelves in the summer of 1994). Equally stunning is the fact that, during that time, Evanovich has written and published 21 novels, four “between-the-numbers” novels, and even a short story or two featuring the bumbling but lovable lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter from New Jersey.

Whether you’re a fan of the Stephanie Plum series or not, Evanovich’s signature character has resonated with millions of readers. Plum is a brilliantly endearing comic heroine—essentially a genre fiction everywoman à la Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse or Nicole Peeler’s Jane True—but it’s Evanovich’s delectable fusion of crime fiction and romance that make these novels so wildly entertaining.

If you have yet to read this genre-blending series—or if you’re a longtime fan who hasn’t yet picked up the latest installment, Top Secret Twenty-One—here are five plum reasons to seek out and buy this book immediately.

1. The singular narrative voice.
A large reason these novels are consistently so popular is because of Evanovich’s intimate, quirky, and frequently off-color first-person narrative. She writes hilarious sentences that not very many writers could possibly get away with. Here are just a few memorable excerpts from Top Secret Twenty-One:

“I was wearing my own underwear. Life was good.”

“Welcome to my world. My sphincter isn’t exactly relaxed.”

“He dragged me to him and kissed me, and I felt the kiss travel like lava to my doo-dah.”

2. The love triangle.
Everybody loves a little romantic tension in their literary escapism—and fans of this series get that and more with Stephanie. She’s hopelessly caught in the middle of a love triangle with two certified hunks: Trenton cop Joe Morelli and Ranger, a former Special Forces soldier who owns his own security agency. Poor Stephanie, right?

3. Stephanie Plum is us.
Readers identify with Stephanie and have fun living vicariously through her antics. She truly is an everywoman—she has a “normally dysfunctional” family, she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, she isn’t exactly overflowing with self-confidence, and—although she should be suitably existentially jaded by now—she still has a good heart and will go out of her way to help people.

4. The weirdness factor. Readers never really know what they’re going to get when they read one of these novels. Top Secret Twenty-One is no different. I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for anyone but I will say that this novel is replete with weirdness—like the pack of feral killer Chihuahuas.

5. The Romanian Slippery Unicorn. An acrobatic sexual maneuver that involves an egg timer and Marshmallow Fluff.

As you can see, Stephanie Plum fans have followed this series for two decades because it’s relentlessly fun. Featuring over-the-top characters and highly implausible situations, it’s perfect summertime literary escapism. Marshmallow Fluff not included…

Are you a Stephanie Plum fan yet?

  • Lulu S

    Love this series especially Stephanie and Grandma. I try not to read these on break at work or listen(great audio books), because I laugh out loud. The Plum series always makes me smile.