Trentonian TNT; Or, the Further Adventures of Miss Stephanie Plum

"Explosive Eighteen" by Janet Evanovich
Reviewed by David Marshall James

If Stephanie Plum isn't Da Bomb, she might as well be. Things are forever exploding in her vicinity.

Generally, it's a GM. Or, a Chrysler. Or, a Ford.

Sometimes, it's a building. Or, a temporary bail-bonds office on wheels.

Poor Cousin Vinnie (that would be Stephanie's cousin, Vincent Plum, who once went two letters up with a duck): His bail-bonds office burned to the ground, a couple of Plum novels ago.

Under mysterious circumstances-- wink, wink.

Not to fret: A new one's rising in the same place. An office, that is.

Cousin Stephanie's usually on the road anyhow, tracking down FTAs (bonded-out court-date skippers), and hauling them back to Trenton, New Jersey, PD HQ to reschedule their court appearances.

Naturally some of those FTAs would prefer not to, and thus must be physically encouraged to do so. That's where the fun comes in, and Stephanie often has coworker Lula riding shotgun (and sometimes packing one-- although Lula prefers a Glock).

Lula's adept at waving firearms, although her marksmanship leaves much to be desired.

However, she's rather accomplished at sitting on those Failure-To-Appear's till La Plum can manacle them.

Trouble with Lula, she requires frequent fortification. As in, fried chicken, ribs, fried chicken, doughnuts, fried chicken, and pizza.

If you're a Plum Chum of Janet Evanovich's long-running series, you know all this. You expect it. You crave more-- like the icing roses on the cakes from Tasty Pastry.

And, like the roast-beef, mashed potato, and green-bean dinners at Stephanie's parents' house, complete with her Grandma Mazur's latest lowdown on life in "The Burg"-- that solid, keep-your-lawn-up, keep-your-nose-in-your-neighbors'-business residential area of midtown Trenton.

Then, there are the men in Stephanie's life. First and foremost, her hamster, Rex. Then, Bob the dog.
Oh, and Morelli (the detective) and Ranger (the high-tech security maestro). There's heaps o' man trouble as the novel opens, but it takes us awhile to learn what actually went down when Stephanie was supposedly soaking up the rays in Hawaii.

Is she married? There's a suspicious, ring-like tan line on one of her fingers. Is she preggers? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.

Watch out for hairdressers here, SP.

Poor Momma Plum-- she's face down in the olive loaf with worry. How will it all end? Who cares, when you're having fun, and the fun runs high in Plum One-Eight. It may be familiar fun, like Halloween, but that's just part of the party.

Indeed, midway through, got to thinking: It was a gut-buster the last time Lula laid hands on a rocket launcher ... wonder whether that'll happen again....

Not gonna spoil your fun.