It begins as many of these do with Stephanie Plum out on a bond recovery. This time it is Loretta, suicidal, and in her pajamas in her kitchen while Stephanie tries to convince her everything is going to be okay. Loretta wanted a Tom Collins as she was thirsty so she held up a liquor store. She made bail and missed her court appearance and now has to leave her home and go back to jail. They negotiate and finally she surrenders and goes semi-willingly to jail. Now, Stephanie has to take care of her teenage son, Mario.

Mario looks way too much like Joe Morelli for Stephanie and just about everyone involved. Sure, Loretta, her brother, Dom, and Joe are all cousins so that could explain it. Or, it could be the fact that according to Dom, Joe years ago got way too close to Loretta and fathered Mario. Dom hates Joe for many reasons and being the father of Mario is just one of them. He wants Joe Morelli dead.  Of course, things just get more complicated from there. Stephanie ends up doing body guard work for Ranger while Joe tries to figure out where the money is from a long ago bank robbery that Dom was a part of and Joe Morelli has made the money hunt more complicated without trying to do so.  And Lulu is working an agenda all her own with her usual results.

So, there are some good ideas here. But, this latest novel is a rather dull read even by the standards of the last several novels in this series. Something is missing and it is not easy to explain what exactly is missing from the book. It could be the fact that the rest of Stephanie’s family is accounted for, but missing in action for almost the entire novel. There is only one dinner scene with the family in this novel and dinner scenes always provided a lot of humor earlier in the series. It could be that while her car is graffiti painted, Stephanie’s car doesn’t suffer a fiery death as we all expect in book after book. It could be that the spark between Ranger and Stephanie is dim in this one and the spark between Joe and Stephanie seems to have been snuffed out. Not that there are romantic comments and flirtatious teasing, but there is little passion involved among any of the parties.

It could be a host of things. I don’t know what it is. I do know that for this reader there were only a couple of amusing moments and one laugh out loud one. The rest of the time the pages turned, the story flowed, but, it never came alive or moved me one way or another. Instead, it seemed lifeless and just a book used to crank out another notch on the series hamster wheel.

While die hard fans may love it, those new to the series are advised to skip this one.

Fearless Fourteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Janet Evanovich

http://www.evanovich.com

St. Martin’s Press

http://www.stmartins.com

2008

ISBN# 0-312-34951-3

Hardback

310 Pages

Review copy provided by the staff of the Plano, Texas Public Library System

http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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