To Celebrate Top Secret Twenty-One, Here Are 6 Reasons We Love Stephanie Plum

Janet Evanovich's Top Secret Twenty One

Top Secret Twenty-One, the 21st book in Janet Evanovich’s blockbuster Stephanie Plum series, is out today, and I for one can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. I’ve been hooked on the adventures of one Miss Plum, the mysterious Ranger, and the brooding Joe Morelli since One For the Money. How do I love Stephanie Plum? Let me count the ways. Here are 6 reasons I wish she were my fictional bestie:

She’s Not Afraid of a Little Mid-Career Transition
When Stephanie makes the switch from lingerie-buyer to bounty hunter in One For the Money, she does so with enormous grace and fortitude. Or at least with a desperate drive to make rent that month. Either way, as anyone who’s ever taken a programming class after working for years in a completely different field knows, it takes tremendous courage to decide to take the plunge and switch careers later in the game, whether it’s to hunting down criminals or teaching middle school. Ms. Plum, you are a trailblazer. We salute you.

She Faces Hard Choices with Aplomb
On the one hand, there’s Joe Morelli, the handsome bad-boy-turned-vice-cop who can’t seem to stay away from Stephanie, even though her dangerous antics have him chugging Maalox by the bottle. On the other hand, there’s Ranger, the quietly enigmatic, don’t-ask-where-this-expensive-car-came-from, Cuban American bounty hunter whom Stephanie can’t seem to stay away from, even though he’s definitely not the relationship type. These two men go together like bullets and birthday cake, but separately, they’re each a tall, sexy drink of water. It’s no wonder Stephanie can’t seem to decide which is the guy for her. She’s also not afraid to find out whether you can love two (wildly) different men at once.

The Woman Knows How to Eat
Reading a Stephanie Plum book is a little like going to the mall with that friend who isn’t afraid to say, “We are hitting up the Orange Julius, and then we are going to the hot pretzel place, and we are each getting our own pretzels. No, wait, two of our own pretzels. And then, to the movies. I’m not sharing my popcorn.” She has a deep appreciation for all walks of food, but particularly donuts and pizza (she’ll fight you for the last slice, or the last chocolate glazed, and she’ll probably win. But you’ll stay friends).  It also bears mentioning that her mother, Mrs. Plum, is one of the best and most inexhaustible fictional cooks I’ve ever encountered. Her leg of lamb is legendary, and lures admirers from across the neighborhood to the Plums’ doorstep.

She Also Knows How to Exercise…She Just REALLY Doesn’t Want To
Her hatred of physical activity aside, Stephanie is known to lace up her running shoes and take a spin or two around the block, especially if Ranger is prodding her at every step, and even more especially if the run ends at a donut shop. But this is what I like about her—she knows that mainlining cheese fries and milkshakes and doggedly eating an entire a box of crullers during a long, boring overnight stakeout comes at a price, and she’s willing to (very, very grudgingly) make the occasional haphazard attempt at fitness. She hates exercise as much as many of us have hated exercise at some point in our lives, but she still (sometimes) does it, approaching it with a grim tenacity that makes her even more relatable.

Her Unforgettable Friends, Frenemies, and Family
Stephanie Plum has a delightfully colorful family, particularly the unflappable Grandma Mazur, who treats funerals like cocktail parties, has her own bounty-hunting aspirations, and once commandeered Stephanie’s gun to fire a warning shot at a roast chicken. Then there’s Stephanie’s friend Lula, a fearless, spandex-clad former streetwalker, her voracious dog Bob, who will eat anything that’s not nailed down, and of course her faithful hamster, Rex. Even Stephanie’s nemesis, the narcissistic home-wrecker Joyce Barnhardt, is a comic gem in her own right, and deserves a mention here. Even if she did sleep with Stephanie’s then-husband on her then-dining room table.

And Last But Not Least, Two Words: Exploding Cars
When it comes to wheels, Stephanie’s got an impressively bad (and dangerous) track record. To find out more, dive into Janet Evanovich’s hilarious Stephanie Plum series. You won’t regret it.

Are you a fan of the Stephanie Plum books? 

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