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    Review of FINGER LICKIN' FIFTEEN by Janet Evanovich (see her website)


    St. Martin's Press, June 2009

    When Lula witnesses a mob execution, she becomes a target herself...and promptly moves in with Stephanie Plum. Meanwhile, Stephanie is dealing with the breakup with her off-again-on-again boyfriend Morelli, with Ranger's constant suggestions that they get together, and with her ongoing incompetence as a bond enforcement agent.

    The humor in this story is driven by Lula hooking up with Grandma Mazur to enter a barbecue contest where they hope to claim the million dollar reward for capturing the men who killed a celebrity chef. The two manage to destroy Stephanie's kitchen (brought back to order by a cross-dressing fireman), poison Morelli and his entire family, set Lula's chef hat on fire, and generally ruin everything they touch.

    No Stephanie Plum story would be complete without exploding cars and once more, Stephanie is vehicle-challenged, this time losing two cars before turning to the aging Buick. Then there's the matter of her apartment. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Ranger is away from his apartment for most of the time when Stephanie flees to it for safety and an escape from Lula.

    Author Janet Evanovich (see more reviews of novels by Evanovich) has been milking the characters and humor of her Stephanie Plum series for a decade and a half and her stories still bring me to laughter. In the early books, there was progress in relationships and character growth. This, unfortunately, has pretty much stopped. After all, if Stephanie became a capable bond enforcement worker, married Joe, and had babies, it would be even harder to sustain the story. I miss, however, the changes and insights that Stephanie achieved in those early stories. These are fun and funny stories, but FINGER LICKIN' FIFTEEN lacks the emotional impact and the laugh-'til-you're-sick humor of the early novels in this series.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/14/09

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