Maybe it’s because my husband watches the Food Network when I want to watch Law and Order reruns, but I quickly tired of the cooking theme in Janet Evanovich’s new Stephanie Plum novel, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. Readers familiar with the series already know Stephanie only orders in for food and Lula makes a mess of everything she touches, I was looking for more. Evanovich’s books are the ones I pick up when I want an easy read with frequent laugh out loud moments and lots of sexual tension. Fifteen had the laughs but this time the only sizzling was in the kitchen or on the grill.
Lula, the loud and large ex-ho in Stephanie’s life, witnesses a murder (think head flying action), while Ranger, security pro and sexual tension source, experiences a series of break-ins at his clients’ homes and businesses. Stephanie assists them both while tracking down her own bounty hunter cases in her own hilarious bumbling fashion. Getting sucked into Lula’s crazy bar-be-que sauce cooking scheme is understandable and provided those moments where I giggled and snorted my way though Evanovich’s wonderful descriptions. Stephanie, dressed in a hotdog costume and falling down repeatedly, was some of the written word’s physical comedy at its best. But I struggled with the plot line when Ranger seeks Stephanie’s detective prowess; the man is the epitome of security and bounty hunting skills. Seeing him in a weakened position may have been where the current of sexual tension died for me. I found it easier to believe a man could get beheaded in broad daylight and Stephanie and Lula could lose yet another criminal to a second floor window escape than to think Ranger would ever need her help.
By and large, the novel achieved what it set out to do. Although at times predictable - Stephanie spent a lot of nights in Ranger’s bed and muttered about his salads and lack of pie, granny was toting her gun in inappropriate settings, and cars were destroyed every other chapter– Evanovich is still innovative. Who knew so many elderly women would look forward to a daily neighborhood flasher, and cross-dressing firemen would work as fast food mascots to pay for their sequined tops?
The ending wrapped up a bit too suddenly. I felt myself running out of pages and wondering if ten more might have been able to provide readers with a more satisfying adversary for Ranger. Carrying his problem to the next novel might have been a better choice. With Stephanie ending the novel back with her steady lover, Joe, I’m not too excited for what book sixteen will bring. I think I’ll go back and enjoy my favorite taxidermy squirrel bombs and Ranger in Stephanie’s bed instead of picking up number sixteen when it hits the shelves.For a list of all the Stephanie Plum novels and a chance to name book sixteen, visit Janet Evanovich’s website.