“Making trouble and winning hearts.”—USA Today
“Brilliantly evocative.”—The Denver Post
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#1 bestselling author Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels are: “irresistible” (Houston Chronicle), “stunning” (Booklist), “outrageous” (Publishers Weekly), “brilliantly evocative” (The Denver Post), and “making trouble and winning hearts” (USA Today).
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track him down. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.
The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory.
“I don’t know why we gotta sit here baking in your car in the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, in the middle of this crummy neighborhood,” Lula said. “It must be two hundred degrees in here. Why don’t we have the air conditioning on?”
“It’s broken,” I told her.
“Well, why don’t you have your window open?”
“It’s stuck closed.”
“Then why didn’t we take my car? My car’s got everything.”
“Your car is red and flashy. People notice it and remember it. This is the stealth car,” I said.
Lula shifted in her seat. “Stealth car, my big toe. This thing is a hunk of junk.”
This was true, but it was my hunk of junk, and due to a professional dry spell it was all I could afford. Lula and I work for my cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds office in Trenton, New Jersey. I’m a fugitive apprehension agent, and Lula is my sometimes partner.
We were currently parked on Stark Street, doing surveillance on a rooming house, hoping to catch Melvin Barrel coming or going. He’d been accused of possession with intent to sell, Vinnie bonded him out of jail, and Barrel hadn’t shown for his court date. Lula makes a wage as the office file clerk, but I only make money if I catch skips, so I was motivated to tough it out in my hellishly hot car, hoping for a shot at snagging Barrel.
“I worked this street when I was a ’ho,” Lula said, “but I was in a better section. This here block is for losers. No high-class ’ho would work this block. Darlene Gootch worked this block but it turned out she was killing people as a hobby.”
Lula was fanning herself with a crumpled fast food bag she’d found on the floor in the back of my car, and the smell of stale French fries and ketchup wafted out at me.
“You keep waving that bag around and we’re going to smell like we work the fry station at Cluck-in-a-Bucket,” I said to her.
“I hear you,” Lula said. “It’s making me hungry, and much as I like the aroma of food grease, I don’t want it stuck in my hair, on account of I just had my hair done. I picked out the piña colada conditioner so I’d smell like a tropical island.”
Lula’s hair was fire-engine red today and straightened to the texture of boar bristle. Her brown skin was slick with sweat. Her extra-voluptuous plus-size body was squeezed into a size 2 petite poison-green spandex skirt, and the acres of flesh that constituted her chest overflowed a brilliant yellow spaghetti-strap tank top. At 5'5" she’s a couple inches shorter than me. We’re about the same age, which puts us in the proximity of thirtysomething. And we’re both single.
My name is Stephanie Plum and I haven’t got Lula’s body volume or the attitude that goes with it. My attitude goes more toward survival mode. I have shoulder-length curly brown hair, blue eyes almost always enhanced by a swipe of black mascara, decent teeth, a cute nose in the middle of my face, and I can almost always button the top button on my jeans.
“Look at this fool coming at us, walking down the middle of the street,” Lula said. “What the heck is he doing?”
The fool was a skinny guy dressed in homie clothes. Baggy pants, wifebeater T‑shirt, $700 basketball shoes. He was jogging more than walking, and every couple steps he’d look over his shoulder and scan the street. He spotted Lula and me, made a course correction, and ran straight for us. He reached my car, grabbed the driver’s side door handle and yanked, but nothing happened.
“What’s with that?” Lula asked.
“My door’s stuck,” I said. “It happens when it gets hot.”
The skinny guy had his face pressed to my window, and he was yelling at us.
“What’s he saying?” Lula asked. “I can’t make it out, and I’m gonna go blind from the sun reflecting on his gold tooth with the diamond chip in it.”
“I think he’s saying if I don’t open the door, he’ll kill me.”
“That don’t sound appealing,” Lula said. “Maybe this is a good time to go get lunch.”
I turned the key in the ignition, and the engine cranked over and died. I turned it again and there was silence. I looked back at the skinny guy and realized he had a gun pointed at me. Not just any old gun either. This gun was big.
“Open your door,” he yelled. “Open your damn door.”
Lula had her purse on her lap and was fumbling around in it. “I got a gun in here somewhere,” she said. “Keep him busy while I find my gun.”
I fidgeted with the door handle on my side so it would look like I was trying to open it. “Here’s the plan,” I said to Lula. “When you find your gun you let me know so I can duck down and you can shoot him.”
“That would be a good plan,” Lula said, “but I might not have my gun with me. I might have left it home when I changed from my red purse to my yellow purse. You know how I am about the right accessories.”
The guy was really agitated now. He had the gun against my window and his forehead was glued to the gun, like he was sighting for the kill.
“Maybe you should open the door and see what he wants,” Lula said. “Maybe he just feels like going for a ride. In which case he could have this piece of dog doodie car, and I’d be happy to take a bus home.”
“Hold on,” I yelled at the guy. “I’m going to open the door.”
“What?” he yelled back.
I hauled back and rammed the door full force with my shoulder. The door flew open, catching the guy by surprise, the gun discharged, and he went down to the ground and didn’t move.
We got out of the car and stared down at the guy. He was statue-still and bleeding from his forehead.
“You killed him,” Lula said. “You hit him with the door, and he shot hisself.”
“It was an accident.”
“Don’t matter. You killed him all the same.” Lula toed him, but he still didn’t move. “Yep,” she said. “He’s dead.”
I looked at my car and realized a bullet was embedded in the roof, just over the window. I bent down and took a closer look at the skinny guy.
“He’s not shot,” I said. “He got hit in the head when the gun kicked back. He’s just knocked out.”
“Hunh,” Lula said. “That would have been my second theory.”
We dragged him to the gutter so he wouldn’t get run over and we got back into my car. I tried the key, but there was no response.
“I bet your battery’s no good,” Lula said. “That’s my professional opinion. You’re gonna have to call someone to juice up your battery. And in the meantime I’m going across the street to that sad-ass grocery store to get a soda. I’m all dehydrated.”
I crossed the street with Lula, we got sodas, and we stood in front of the store chugging them down. A black Cadillac Escalade rolled down the street and stopped by my car. Two idiots wearing gang colors got out, scooped the skinny guy up, and threw him into the Escalade. A yellow Hummer careened around the corner, jerked to a stop half a block in front of the Escalade, and two guys in the Hummer leaned out the window and opened fire. The Escalade returned fire. A guy wearing a crooked ball cap popped his head out of the sunroof on the Hummer, aimed a rocket launcher at the Escalade, and phoonf! the rocket went wide of the Escalade and blew up my car. There was a moment of silence, then both cars roared away.
Lula and I stared wide-eyed and openmouthed at the fireball consuming my car.
“Jeez Louise,” I said.
“Yeah, but you gotta look on the positive side,” Lula said. “You don’t have to worry about charging up the battery.”
Lula’s comment might have seemed casual considering the gravity of the situation, but truth is this wasn’t the first time someone had exploded my car.
My cellphone rang, and I knew from the ringtone it was Ranger.
“You’re off the grid,” Ranger said when I answered.
“Someone blew up my car.”
There was a moment of silence. “And?”
“I guess I could use a ride.”
“Babe,” Ranger said. And he disconnected.
“He coming for us?” Lula asked.
Ranger is Latino and former Special Forces turned semi-legitimate businessman. He’s part owner of a security firm located in an inconspicuous seven-story building in the center of the city. I work for him on occasion, I’ve had one or two romantic skirmishes with him, and he has the sometimes annoying, sometimes convenient habit of installing tracking devices on my vehicles. His hair is dark brown and currently cut short. His eyes are mostly black. His body is perfect from the tip of his toes to the top of his head. He plays by his own rules, and his attitude is uncompromising. He only wears black, and he only drives black cars. He’s smart. He’s strong in every possible way. And being in his crosshairs is flat out scary.
No one came out of the little grocery store to look at the fire. No police cars or fire trucks screeched to the scene. It was as if this was business as usual and best ignored.
I looked down the street at the rooming house, wondering if Melvin Barrel was in there melting down in a pool of sweat. No air conditioners sticking out of any of the windows in the rooming house. For sure no central air.
“I bet that skinny guy you almost killed was running away from someone, and that’s why he wanted your car,” Lula said.
I leaned against the building. “It was a bad choice of cars.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t know that. All’s he saw was two women sitting in a car like a couple dummies. He probably figured if we was stupid enough to be sitting in the car, we was stupid enough to give it over to him.”
“He was wrong.”
“Not by much,” Lula said.
Fifteen minutes later Ranger eased his black Porsche Cayenne to a stop in front of Lula and me. I got into the front passenger seat, and Lula got into the back.
Ranger glanced at the charred cadaver of twisted metal and smoldering tires that used to be my car. “Yours?” he asked me.
“Yep,” I said.
“Do I need to know how this happened?”
Ranger idled in front of the bonds office and Lula got out. I moved to follow Lula, and Ranger wrapped his hand around my wrist. “Stay. I want to talk to you.”
I’m not currently in a physical relationship with Ranger. Ranger has clear priorities and matrimony isn’t high on the list. In fact, it isn’t on the list at all. Until recently marriage hasn’t been high on my priorities list either, but my mother feels otherwise, and as much as I hate to admit it my mother is wearing me down.
“I need a date,” Ranger said.
My voice ratcheted up an octave. “You want me to get you a date?”
“No. I want you to be my date. I have to attend a black tie event, and I need someone watching my back.”
“Me?” I wasn’t exactly The Terminator.
“People would talk if I brought Tank.”
Tank is appropriately named. He’s Ranger’s shadow and second in command at Rangeman. And Ranger was right. Tank would make a controversial date.
“When is this?” I asked Ranger.
“Tomorrow? I can’t just drop everything and do this tomorrow. You should have asked me sooner. I’m seeing Morelli. It’s Friday date night. We’re going to the movies and then . . . ”
“I can give you a better and then,” Ranger said.
I went breathless for a beat at the thought of Ranger’s and then. Morelli was an amazing lover, but Ranger was magic. I pulled myself together and narrowed my eyes at Ranger, hoping I looked determined.
“You and I are done doing and then with each other,” I said. “There is absolutely no more and then. Morelli and I have an understanding.”
“I’m serious this time. I might be ready to have a committed adult relationship.”
Joe Morelli is a Trenton cop working plainclothes, crimes against persons. I’ve known him forever and our relationship has progressed from downright hostile, to deliciously hot, to maybe we could actually live with each other without complete mayhem. He’s six feet of hard muscle and Italian libido. His hair is black and wavy. His eyes are brown and assessing. His style is casual. He wears jeans, untucked shirts, and a Glock 19, and he has a big shaggy dog named Bob.
“I’ll pay you,” Ranger said.
“I’ll hire you for the night. You can be my bodyguard.”
At the risk of sounding mercenary, this got my attention. I was a month behind on my rent, and I wasn’t having great luck with the fugitive apprehension stuff. Vinnie had mostly low bond skips this month, and I was barely making pizza money, much less rent money. And I was pretty sure I could muster enough self-control to keep from ripping Ranger’s clothes off.
“What exactly would bodyguarding entail?” I asked him.
“The usual. You take a bullet for me if necessary, and you manage the small talk.”
“You can’t manage your own small talk?”
“Making polite conversation isn’t at the top of my skill set.”
“I’ve noticed.” Okay, so this doesn’t sound so bad, plus I’d get dinner, right? “What time will you pick me up?”
“Six o’clock. This event is in Atlantic City. Dinner is at eight.”
I left Ranger and joined Lula in the bonds office. The building was brand-new and light-years better than the old office. It had been built on the same footprint as the old office but the walls were freshly painted, the tile on the floor was unscuffed, the furniture was inexpensive but comfortable and free from food and coffee stains.
Lula had claimed her usual spot on the faux leather couch, and Connie, the office manager, was at her desk. Connie is a couple years older than me, a much better shot, and better connected. Connie’s family is old school Italian mob and far more professional than Trenton’s gangsta morons when it comes to crime-related skills such as whacking, hijacking, and money laundering. Connie looks a lot like Betty Boop with big hair and a mustache. Today she was wearing a short black pencil skirt, a wide black patent-leather belt, and a tight red sweater with a low scoop neck that showed a lot of her Betty Boopness.
Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.
From the Hardcover edition.
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The only thing that changes is the title. Just do SOMETHING with this series. Joe or Ranger or neither, but do something. Love these books but after 12 I've gotten to where I'm just annoyed with this author. I could write these books now. Sorry, Janet, you are just writing to make money not entertain your audience.
This book lacked everything! I am so disappointed! I cannot believe I waited a whole year for this! It feels like a repeat from the last 5 books she's written. We are still no closer to finding out who Stephanie will pick... she even used entire lines from previous book, verbatim. Nothing happens, the story develops very slowly and the result is very anticlimatic. The plot is flat, the ending sucks. Only redeamable quality of this book is Lula and Grandma. The author really needs to step it up and conclude the story, I truly feel like I wasted my money on this book. If you are really interested in reading it you are better off borrowin git from a friend or the library. Don't wastr your money!
I used to love Stephanie Plum and looked forward to every new edition in the series, but sadly that was long ago. The book is stale and repetitive. How many times can the same thing happen to one character. Bad enough when it happens book to book but just plain hard to read when it occurs multiple times in the same story. Nothing new happens and Stephanie is as undecided as she was more than half a dozen books ago about her life and her relationships. The author has branched into a new series so hopefully she'll end this one soon. Frankly these days l'm more interested in the finale than I am in who Stephanie chooses.
After an hour on the phone with customer support, I was told my pre-ordered copy of Notorious Nineteen is not compatible with my first edition NOOK. Nowhere is this mentioned when ordering. How silly, a NOOK BOOK not available to my NOOK! You won't waste my time and money again Barnes and Noble!
So, I decided the only way to continue enjoying these books is to pretend they're standalone and stop hoping for any kind if resolution. As such, this was a great read! If I remember it's part of a series...well...I think Janet needs to go back and read some of the earlier books. Why does Stephanie act surprised Morelli says he loves her. Back in books 10-12, it was a point that he would say it and she wouldn't. She told him she loves him at the end of book 12, yet in this book she's trying to decide. Really??? Overall, it's a great quick read, but for everyone hoping for forward movement to the series...keep hoping.
This book was flat. She needs to finish this series . Its the same thing in every book.
SPOILER ALERT! Don't read the review titled "Short & Good, But Not Great before you read the book. Thanks reviewer (Anonymous) for ruining a part of the story for us for me.
I used to love this series and couldn't wait for a new book to come out. I will continue to read them but I think it's time to make some changes or end the series. The story was better than the last book but the formula is old. Stephanie's cars constantly getting blown up was tiresome about 15 books ago. The Ranger and Morielli triangle has been done to death. And Lula was tolerable in small doses but she has almost more dialogue than Stephanie. I hope Janet Evanovich will let this once great series die with the little bit of dignity it has left.
Ok. I am a huge Janet Evanovich fan. BUT...I just realized after waiting soooo long for this book to come out...that it is just the exact same thing over and over. No lie. Very repetative. I am starting to get very bored with this series. I mean...there are only so many times you can have you car and apartment blown up. There are only so many times a completely gorgeous man will replace it. The relationships went nowhere.
I only strarted reading this series last year but from the minute I picked it up I was hooked. I sped through the whole series and then went back and reread the entire thing. It literally feels like I've been waiting forever for 19. While I enjoyed the story (and Stephanie and Lula still make me laugh out loud while reading), it felt like a teaser. I think the storyline could have, and should have, progressed further. I found that dissapointing. Of course, I'll keep reading as I definitely would like to see a conclusion to the Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger scenario. I hope Ms. Evanovich doean't keep us waiting too long.
As always..... hilarious, exciting, dangerous and explosive... fitting in true Plum style! Laughed from begining to end.....
I waited an entire year for #19 and I was disappointed, especially with the ending. Stephanie needs to make a decision between Joe and Ranger. This is getting very, very old along with blowing up cars, and constantly having "Lula" with just as many lines as Stephanie. All Lula does is constantly eat, eat, eat. She dresses outrageous and messes up everything she does or attempts. In this day and age, Lula needs to learn how to speak correct English. This series needs to come to an end with a true ending, not a cliffhanger. If it continues on, Stephanie needs to choose between Joe and Ranger (finally, no going back and forth). Lula needs a change for the better in all areas. Stephanie and Lula both need some outside friends. What happened to Stephanie's best friend Mary Lou? Because her character is married with children, doesn't mean they can't still be friends. This series was great the first 14 books, then it went down hill from there. Please do not leave us hanging for another whole year. Please make positive changes or end it with diginity!
I was so excited when this book finally came out, but was totally disappointed with the story. It is just the same old stuff, different day. Nothing suspenseful, intriguing, or even exciting happened. It was a total waste of time and money. I have read better books that cost a fraction of what I paid for this one. If you are looking for a funny and believable heroine, read the Heller series from JD Nixon.
What a disappointment, same story different book! How many times can her car seriously be blown up? I wish i could get a refund. DO Not BUY check out from th library!
To short .Seemed more like one of the in between plums not one of her series books.Am I wrong or did book 18 end kind of leaving you hanging and not being finished in book 19
I would give this more than a five star rating if it were possible. Janet Evanovich has taken the Plum, Morelli/Ranger relationship to new levels of mystery and intrigue by revealing NEW information about Ranger and lots of it! If you are only reading this series for what Stephanie does while at her job, yes, it's basically same old, same old. If you are bored with that, stop reading! For those of us following Stephanie Plum for the intrigue of who she is going to chose in the end, Janet Evanovich has stepped it up a notch! Could Ranger fans possibly LOVE Ranger anymore??? I'm thinking NOT!
Not a spoiler!! It is a long review. Loved this book! Loved the whole series!! I read a lot of reviews on the Plum series, and people seemed disappointed in a few of them. Complaining about lack of enough sex/ romance or stories seeming similar, etc... I am so happy I ignored these posts!!! I read all of the Plum books, plus the in between books, plus the Wicked series in 3 weeks. These are fast easy reads that are very funny and well written. The characters all well developed, making you feel as you know them. They are a totally exaggerated, but that's what makes the these stories hilarious!! I read them all one after the other so rather than reviewing all of them I decided to just sum up my review on #19. I read these like a crazy woman! I just had to finish all of them, and it was worth every minute, and every dime. Thank you Janet for the MANY belly laughs!! Not having EXPECTATIONS, and just enjoying the story being read , made it so I don't have a bad review for ANY of them! Sure you may want this or that to happen, but this is a ongoing series. Who knows, what will happen in the end, book #35? In the meantime, just enjoy Stephanie's crazy adventures. After flying through 25 books. I am sold on this author! Her characters, with the their quick quips and zany personalities are just fantastic! PLUS HOTTIES!!! LOL All around good fun! FYI to those posting 1 star for your purchasing problem or your nook problem, nobody cares. This is a review for BOOKS. Post your complaints to people who can help you! People want to know if you enjoyed the book, not your attempt to rewrite the book in your own words!! It's not like your a paid critic for Barnes and Noble so don't ruin it for others, common sense people. I tell this to my children for goodness sake! So get these books and read them all! Now, do I go the Full series or the Barnaby and Hooker series. Any suggestions?
Not as good as her past books. Boring in places.
Im ready for the series to end.. I want to see who Stephanie picks because it seems like every Plum book is still the same. This book was a good read but I just want something different next time.
I continue to laugh out loud at Lula and would like things to heat up again between Stephanie and the guys. I enjoyed the story line more than 18, but the book is awfully short. I would have liked to see the story develop more in some areas. It seems like there could have been more detail to round out some things and give us more pages to read!!! I have read every book in this series multiple times and will continue to do so. On a side note - there were quite a few incomplete sentences and a missing article - bad editing or creative license? Either way, it was a little distracting and not something I have seen before in her books.
I loved this book but was very disappointed that I wasn't able to "lend it". My husband and I both have our own nooks and it's nice to just buy the book once and each read it, we don't loan it to anyone else. As much as we both love this series, I won't buy the next in an ebook. Anyone know who makes the decision whether a book is "lendable" or not on the nook, the author or Barnes and Noble?
Really enjoyed this book just wish it was longer!! Tons of laughs :) as much as i have loved reading this series i think its time to wrap things up and give stephanie a happy ending!!
Am I the only one who feels like we, the readers, are paying $14 dollars to read the same story again, and again, and again? I will NOT buy another Janet Evanovich book ever again. No reason to buy it when I can read the ones I have and get just as far in the story as I would had I bought the "new" book in the series. Don't even get me started on the disappointment that is the Wicked series. Complete waste of time and money.
If you like the series, it's another fun read. But the story line is similar to other plum books, and doesn't really further the series story line. But it is still another cute book.
So cute! I just love her. I know that it seems predictable and that we've all become accustomed to the same sort of story but I never get tired of how she rights. Love love love and can't wait for the next one!