Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum Series #20)by Janet Evanovich
Powerhouse author Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels are “as entertaining as ever” (Entertainment Weekly), “brilliantly evocative” (The Denver Post), and “making trouble and winning hearts” (USA Today).
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Powerhouse author Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels are “as entertaining as ever” (Entertainment Weekly), “brilliantly evocative” (The Denver Post), and “making trouble and winning hearts” (USA Today).
Stephanie Plum has her sights set on catching a notorious mob boss. If she doesn’t take him down, he may take her out.
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.
It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.
With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Janet Evanovich's Top Secret Twenty-One.
Read an Excerpt
It was late at night and Lula and I had been staking out Salvatore Sunucchi, better known as Uncle Sunny, when Lula spotted Jimmy Spit. Spit had his prehistoric Cadillac Eldorado parked on the fringe of the Trenton public housing projects, half a block from Sunucchi’s apartment, and he had the trunk lid up.
“Hold on here,” Lula said. “Jimmy’s open for business, and it looks to me like he got a trunk full of handbags. I might need one of them. A girl can never have too many handbags.”
Minutes later, Lula was examining a purple Brahmin bag studded with what Spit claimed were Swarovski crystals. “Are you sure this is a authentic Brahmin bag?” Lula asked Spit. “I don’t want no cheap-ass imitation.”
“I have it on good authority these are the real deal,” Spit said. “And just for you I’m only charging ten bucks. How could you go wrong?”
Lula slung the bag over her shoulder to take it for a test drive, and a giraffe loped past us. It continued on down the road, turning at Sixteenth Street and disappearing into the darkness.
“I didn’t see that,” Lula said.
“I didn’t see that neither,” Spit said. “You want to buy this handbag or what?”
“That was a giraffe,” I said. “It turned the corner at Sixteenth Street.”
“Probably goin’ the 7-Eleven,” Spit said. “Get a Slurpee.”
A black Cadillac Escalade with tinted windows and a satellite dish attached to the roof sped past us and hooked a left at Sixteenth. There was the sound of tires screeching to a stop, then gunfire and an ungodly shriek.
“Not only didn’t I see that giraffe,” Spit said, “but I also didn’t see that car or hear that shit happening.”
He grabbed the ten dollars from Lula, slammed the trunk lid shut, and took off.
“They better not have hurt that giraffe,” Lula said. “I don’t go with that stuff.”
I looked over at her. “I thought you didn’t see the giraffe.”
“I was afraid it might have been the ’shrooms on my pizza last night what was making me see things. I mean it’s not every day you see a giraffe running down the street.”
My name is Stephanie Plum, and I work as a bond enforcement officer for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. Lula is the office file clerk, but more often than not she’s my wheelman. Lula is a couple inches shorter than I am, a bunch of pounds bigger, and her skin is a lot darker. She’s a former streetwalker who gave up her corner but kept her wardrobe. She favors neon colors and animal prints, and she fearlessly tests the limits of spandex. Today her brown hair was streaked with shocking pink to match a tank top that barely contained the bounty God had bestowed on her. The tank top stopped a couple inches above her skintight, stretchy black skirt, and the skirt ended a couple inches below her ass. I’d look like an idiot if I dressed like Lula, but the whole neon pink and spandex thing worked for her.
“I gotta go see if the giraffe’s okay,” Lula said. “Those guys in the Escalade might have been big game poachers.”
“This is Trenton, New Jersey!”
Lula was hands on hips. “So was that a giraffe, or what? You don’t think it’s big game?”
Since Lula was driving we pretty much went where Lula wanted to go, so we jumped into her red Firebird and followed the giraffe.
There was no Escalade or giraffe in sight when we turned the corner at Sixteenth, but a guy was lying facedown in the middle of the road, and he wasn’t moving.
“That don’t look good,” Lula said, “but at least it’s not the giraffe.”
Lula stopped just short of the guy in the road, and we got out and took a look.
“I don’t see no blood,” Lula said. “Maybe he’s just takin’ a nap.”
“Yeah, or maybe that thing implanted in his butt is a tranquilizer dart.”
“I didn’t see that at first, but you’re right. That thing’s big enough to take down a elephant.” Lula toed the guy, but he still didn’t move. “What do you suppose we should do with him?”
I punched 911 into my phone and told them about the guy in the road. They suggested I drag him to the curb so he didn’t get run over, adding that they’d send someone out to scoop him up.
While we waited for the EMS to show, I rifled the guy’s pockets and learned that his name was Ralph Rogers. He had a Hamilton Township address, and he was fifty-four years old. He had a MasterCard and seven dollars.
The EMS truck slid in without a lot of fanfare. Two guys got out and looked at Ralph, who was still on his stomach with the dart stuck in him.
“That’s not something you see every day,” the taller of the two guys said.
“The dart might have been meant for the giraffe,” Lula told them. “Or maybe he’s one of them shape-shifters, and he used to be the giraffe.”
The two men went silent for a beat, probably trying to decide if they should get the butterfly net out for Lula.
“It’s a full moon,” the shorter one finally said.
The other guy nodded, and they loaded Ralph into the truck and drove off.
“Now what?” Lula asked me. “We going to look some more for Uncle Sunny, or we going to have a different activity, like getting a pizza at Pino’s?”
“I’m done. I’m going home. We’ll pick up Sunny’s trail tomorrow.”
Truth is, I was going home to a bottle of champagne I had chilling in my fridge. It had been left on my kitchen counter a couple days before as partial payment for a job I’d done for my friend and sometime employer Ranger. The champagne had come with a note suggesting that Ranger needed a date. Okay, so Ranger is hot, and luscious, and magic in bed, but that didn’t totally compensate for the fact that the last time I’d been Ranger’s date I’d been poisoned. I’d been saving the champagne for a special occasion, and it seemed like seeing a giraffe running down the street qualified.
Lula drove me back to the bonds office, I picked up my car, and twenty minutes later I was in my apartment, leaning against the kitchen counter, guzzling champagne. I was watching my hamster, Rex, run on his wheel when Ranger walked in.
Ranger doesn’t bother with trivial matters like knocking, and he isn’t slowed down by a locked door. He owns an elite security firm that operates out of a seven-story stealth office building located in the center of Trenton. His body is perfect, his moral code is unique, his thoughts aren’t usually shared. He’s in his early thirties, like me, but his life experience adds up to way beyond his years. He’s of Latino heritage. He’s former Special Forces. He’s sexy, smart, sometimes scary, and frequently overprotective of me. He was currently armed and wearing black fatigues with the Rangeman logo on his sleeve. That meant he was on patrol duty, most likely filling in for one of his men.
“Working tonight?” I asked him.
“Taking the night shift for Hal.” He looked at my glass. “Are you drinking champagne out of a beer mug?”
“I don’t have any champagne glasses.”
“Babe” covers a lot of ground for Ranger. It can be the prelude to getting naked. It can be total exasperation. It can be a simple greeting. Or, as in this case, it can just mean I’ve amused him.
Ranger smiled ever so slightly and took a step closer to me.
“Stop,” I said. “Don’t come any closer. The answer is no.”
His brown eyes locked onto me. “I didn’t ask a question.”
“You were going to.”
“Well, don’t even think about it, because I’m not going to do it.”
“I could change your mind,” he said.
“I don’t think so.”
Okay, truth is Ranger could change my mind. Ranger can be very persuasive.
Ranger’s cellphone buzzed, he checked the text message and moved to the door. “I have to go. Give me a call if you change your mind.”
“Okay, wait a minute. I want to know the question.”
“No time to explain it,” Ranger said. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven o’clock. A little black dress would be good. Something moderately sexy.”
And he was gone.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
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.
- Hanover, New Hampshire
- Date of Birth:
- April 22, 1943
- Place of Birth:
- South River, New Jersey
- B.A., Douglass College, 1965
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have read all the Stephanie Plums including the between the numbers. This is by far the worst. Though, I must admit it seems I feel that way with each new book starting with about 16. I really believe Janet is only continuing because she is under contract. I don't believe she had any interest in continuing this series. This book was just flat out boring. I'm also kind of sick with her kissing Ranger in the morning and Morelli at night. It is one thing to have the hots for two men but another to be acting the way she is. I think I'm done buying books in this series.
I would have probably gone two stars, but I feel the need to offset the 4 and 5 star ratings this book is getting. I liked this book better the first time I read it...as Three To Get Deadly! I think JE even references the fact they are so similar. When? In this book, Stephanie is trying to apprehend Uncle Sunny, Joe's Godfather, and someone so beloved by people that no one wants to help her and everyone is mad at her? Sound familiar?? At one point, she knocks Sunny unconscious and as he comes around he mumbles 'chocolate ice cream'. In Three to Get Deadly, her beloved skip she's trying to get owns the ice cream parlor in town. Coincidence?? You decide. Overall, same stuff different book. Is it funny to read? Sure. However, I have the same complaint I've had for several books now. No forward movement. I hate that Stephanie is Joe's girlfriend, but is messing around with Ranger. At least she didn't sleep with both of them in this book - there's an improvement. If JE is just going to continue to recycle stories from her better, earlier books, then just end the series. Either move the characters and story forward or stick a fork in it. At the very least, put some thought into the books and give the characters some depth along with a new storyline. These just feel phoned in. I'm starting to put her in the same category as James Patterson - does she even write these anymore or is it her and some other author and it's the other author that probably does the most writing. What made me love the Plum books in the beginning just doesn't seem to exist in the books anymore. I enjoyed this series through book 14 (some argue 12 was the last good one, but I loved 13 and 14 too). So, if you're in a Plum mood, go back to the beginning and read the earlier ones. They are great re-reads and better than what is being put out now.
"I'm a big stupid failure!" ~ pg. 52 (Well said, Stephanie Plum.) Takedown Twenty is the 20th book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has to take down mob boss Uncle Sunny. Although he is charged with murder, the community is secretive about his whereabouts. Besides getting the run-around, Stephanie is also tasked with helping Ranger solve a bizarre death. They partner with Grandma Mazur to catch a killer, in between bingo games, at the senior citizen home. St. Louis Post calls Stephanie Plum novels "laugh-out-loud funny." The Denver Post claims they are "brilliantly evocative." USA Today states they are "winning hearts." ARE WE READING THE SAME SERIES?! *deep exhale* Why oh why do I keep reading the Stephanie Plum series? I might as well stop reading at this 20th installment and pick back up for the final book (if I am alive). I am convinced this series will outlast my life. It's never-freaking-ending! I am sick of the only black character Lulu stereotypically eating fried chicken and wearing kool-aid weave. There possibly can't be any more available cars for skips to blow up. The only surprise are random ass animals (this time, a giraffe named Kevin) showing up in the story. Let's face it, Plum fans; Morelli, Stephanie and Ranger will forever be a love triangle. I cannot continue riding out this series. My patience has been zapped by Grandma Mazur's stun gun. Throw me in a casket at the local Trenton funeral home. I am done. Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
I used to love this series. Now I can barely get through the books. Gone is the chemistry between the characters. This will be the last one for me... what a shame.
I didn't think it could get worse, but yet again it did. I can't even suffer through these books anymore. For the past 5 books I have only read the Morelli and Ranger parts literally scanning until I see their names (which was harder this time because there is a character named Randy). But not even my scanning was fulfilling this time. How can Evanovich tease a Stephanie and Morelli relationship talk and then end it with nothing? This has reaffirmed my motto to go with my gut. I will NEVER waste my money on this merrygoround of CRAP!
I don't recommend this book. $13.00 for 200 pages!!! It's like she just threw something on paper to meet Her release date. I would like to give no stars but I had to Pick one is still too good for this book.
After reading the reviews, this reinforces the feelings that I have had over the past several books. I used to collect these books, but now I wait to get it from the library and not spend $14 on the Nook book!
I remember when this series didn't need the odd animal and I laughed out loud from first chapter to last. Quick read with little desire to continue to 21
I loved all the early Stephanie Plum books. BUT the newest additions to this series is just simply falling way short. This book was short and disappointing. I wish I hadn't spent the money on it. It's the same thing as all the others, nothing new. I think JE needs to come up with a new direction for Stephanie, it's just getting boring. Sorry had hoped she was going to do something different when I bought this one, but I think I'll go ahead and pass on the next (wish I had with this one), it's just not worth the $.
I used to look forward to each book in this series. Now they seem to be just written to fulfill a contract obligation. I won't waste my money for the next one.
What a disappointment! I normally love this series but it seems the romance is gone for me. It was a struggle to even finish. I wish I had not purchased as I doubt I will read it again.
Sadly, these books continue to go downhill. It is the same old, same old. JE needs to decide if she want to continue this series that made her famous, or just end it. She is losing fans by turning out mediocre books. Stefanie needs to grow as a character and make a decision about her job and her love life. This Ranger/Morelli thing is getting old. There were some funny parts as always, but mostly it was just boring.
Read this book in an hour and a half After waiting for weeks. It's just ok. Not the laugh out loud series it used to be. Sad so much is cut and paste from previous books . Please Janet, write us a better one!
I just finished Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich. I couldn't wait to get finished with it. It was fairly insipid and I couldn't believe I was spending my time on it. The only funny part was in the butcher shop. And yes, I've read all the others.
I have read all the books and this is by far the worst I think it is time to end this series as it seems janet is grabbing at straws to write them now. I used to read them in 1 day it took 3 days for this one because I just couldn't get into it. I would always get hysterical laughing when reading these books but this one hardly made me smile. save your money it isn't worth it its the biggest waste of 13.99 that ive had in a long time
So disappointed in this book. I forced myself to finish hoping it would get better. Not worth reading
I'm afraid I have to agree with the other 1-star reviewers. This episode was kind of a struggle to get through. I forced myself to read it all, hoping it would redeem itself eventually. Didn't. I was not amused, but ANNOYED by the need to have a giraffe (!) galloping through the story. Yes, it got explained at the end, but it was LAME, like some kind of inside joke that the reader had no possibilty of understanding or appreciating till the last pages. I have been a loyal Evanovich reader from One, but this one gave me pause. Supposedly, Stephanie is a grown-up by now, and she really should choose between the steam and the rock. Sure, one gets her panites in a twist, but this relationship is actually becoming annoying, Babe! What self-respecting woman magnet would put up with her indecision AND keep supplying her with cars to get wrecked, bombed and otherwise sacrificed? His insurance must be beyond calculation! Is she really so amazing as to be worth this? And what if Stephanie finally said, hey BABE, it's YOU, and sets the cop free? Would Ranger still keep riding to her rescue? I think not. And Morelli, geeze, if he is such a catch, why has he not been caught by someone who totally appreciates him-- besides his slobbering dog? The eternal triangle is getting boring. And Stephanie's hampster must be as geriatric as Grandma Mazur by now. He's been fed all kinds of garbage, not in sufficient quantity to maintain life, and gets little attention. I think that's animal abuse. The Lula stereotype is bad and getting worse. I am sure there are people with some of these attributes somewhere, but she is the only woman of color in these novels and she is written insultingly weirder and dumber every episode. I am waiting for her to screech, "I don't know nuthin' about birthin' no babies." Ack! Ms. Evanovich has proven in the past that she is a fine writer and capable of SO MUCH better than this.
I am a true plum fan! Some say this book was predictable and they tired of the same thing. I understand however I still love these books. Stephanie is making small steps forward. I do think she needs to make a decision a between Ranger or Joe. I think it should be Ranger as he excepts her for who she is, asks for her help knowing she has knowledge too, shares info with her no matter what, helps her when she's over her head, protects her, loves her, does not ask her to be something she's not, and I do think he is ready to settle down. Yes we have to wait for her to come to this conclusion, and maybe Evanovich won't come to the same convulsion as me. But I think they deserve a chance. Let Joe see he should include her things. In 20 they are together and has a family game night and Stephanie comes over, and he's like oh didn't think you would want to come, hell he going to family dinner with her all the time and he doesn't extend the invite at all, that's crap. I think it's time Stephanie meets Rangers mother. It's time for them to get together, especially after the bridge incident, Ranger does not just want sex. (less)
How very sad it is to ppush yourself to finish a Plum book.I wish I had read the reviews befoore buying thiis bomb. It seems JE doesnt read or doesnt care what her fans say.The last five have gotten progressivly worse.I am being very generous in calling it MEDIOCREThe recyling of past failures leaves her LOYAL fans feel cheated. TIME TO SAY It is a wrap and put it in the can..the gargage can.
I don't understand why people are rating this so harshly. Even if you don't think it's as good as the earlier books in the series, it still doesn't deserve one star!! I personally loved this book! If you love the Stephanie Plum series, you will love this. It continues on where the others left off and the story was great. Janet did not disappoint as usual. Can't wait for Top Secret Twenty One!
While i'm a huge Evanovich fan, Takedown Twenty was not my favorite book of the series. I am usually able to look forward to laughing so hard I have tears rolling but not this time. Although it was cute, I was left wanting....something more.
Have read all the Plum novels and enjoyed them all. The books are funny and easy reading, wonderful way to relax and unwind. Highly recommended.
Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!! The plot line took over as Stephanie and Lulu chase Kevin throughout the book. Surprise ending when the killer is finally caught! Stephanie manages only to lose a muffler on her car and get one of Ranger's SUV squashed by a fire truck after "accidentally" setting an apartment on fire. She manages to break a finger and her nose. A bit tame for Stephanie in 199 pages. Morelli is Morelli and Ranger seems to have lost a bit of his sizzle for me. I'd love to see Ranger's sizzle back! All in all, a great read and I can't wait for the next one!
Wonderful series. Everyone is a joy tor read. Funny and it draws you in!
Takedown Twenty is the twentieth full-length novel in the popular Stephanie Plum series by American author, Janet Evanovich. Stephanie’s after a skip worth big money, Salvatore Sunucchi. But there’s a problem. Sunucchi is Joe Morelli’s godfather, and Grandma Bella’s nephew. He may be accused of murder, but everybody likes him and no-one will give Stephanie a clue. Then there’s the giraffe that keeps galloping past, distracting Lula and Stephanie from their stake-out. And Ranger wants Stephanie to look into the murder of an old lady, a murder that proves to be the work of a serial killer who leaves bodies in dumpsters. This instalment sees Stephanie going to two funeral home viewings, having a muffler incident that means resorting to Uncle Sandor’s big blue Buick, being shot at multiple times, falling down stairs under weighty people, breaking various body parts, thrown into the Delaware, kidnapped twice and trying to cook a meal. Someone resorts to a former occupation for the sake of a handbag; someone gets an ear shot off, at least one car is destroyed, much food is consumed and cement shoes are narrowly avoided. By the twentieth instalment, Evanovich is relying on the various in-jokes: Stephanie’s ongoing dilemma of which man to choose; Lula’s appetite for food and fashion; Grandma Mazur’s zest for life; Grandma Bella’s putting the eye on Stephanie; the bizarre episodes trying to get skips to the police station; Stephanie’s uncanny ability to attract disaster; her mother’s reaction to all the stress (ironing). The snappy dialogue is a strong part of the series and, this time, the giraffe provides a bit of slapstick. A fun read.