Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (audio)

Title: Top Secret Twenty-One    
Author: Janet Evanovich   
Series: Stephanie Plum, #21    
Narrator: Lorelei King  
Published: June 2014, Random House Audio  
Length: 6 hours 16 minutes  
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she’ll pull it all off: top secret.

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

My thoughts: I came late to the Stephanie Plum party and so I spent most of the last two years catching up on this series. Luckily, I decided to go with audio on this series, otherwise there was no way I would have been able to have gotten caught up so quickly. 

I do have to say I was getting a bit disheartened with the series as it seemed the books were the same old after a while and I didn't know if it was just because I was basically listening to them back-to-back or if they really were that similar. Now that I'm caught up, there's time between each book, and I find I appreciate the stories a bit more. Don't get me wrong - there's still the same old things happening over and over again - Stephanie gets a car blown up, she's still undecided between Morelli and Ranger, dumb luck still has her getting the bad guy and so forth.

But, what I do love about this series are the characters themselves! I adore Grandma Mazur and in this latest installment, she's working on her bucket list...and what a list it is! She's always been great for laughs and provides plenty this time around. Then there's Lula, my other favorite character in this series. I don't know what it is about her, but I just love her. It might even be the voice that Lorelei King gives her that just makes me love her more. She's got great lines and fun outfits - oh how I wish I could see exactly what she is wearing sometimes because the pictures I get in my head are completely outrageous!

With each book that comes out in the series lately, I get nervous that it will finally be the one where Stephanie decides which guy she wants to be with. As much as I get tired of the love triangle going on between her, Morelli and Ranger, I don't know if I'm ready for it to come to an end. And, to be honest, I don't know which guy I want her to end up with.

So, what about you. If you read or listen to this series...where do you stand on the love triangle? Or, have you given up on the series because of any of the issues I've mentioned above?

Audio Thoughts: Once again, Lorelei King has knocked it out of the park with this audio. My only concern is that she has will forever be these characters for me. I did try to listen to her narrate another book and had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't a Stephanie Plum book. She has just made these characters come to life and to me will always be Stephanie, Lula, Morelli, Ranger and Grandma Mazur. Have you found that with any narrators before?



  1. I don't even pay attention to the love triangle anymore. I haven't listened to this one yet (I will) but really it is more about whatever hot water Steph has gotten herself into :)

    1. And she sure does seem to find herself in hot water each time!

  2. I read the first few of these when they first came out and always enjoyed them. Glad to know that the good stuff is still there! The side characters were always my favorite part of books! I'll have to get caught up with this one.

    1. Yes - the side characters definitely keep me coming back for more in this series!

  3. I would love to "see" Lula too. I enjoyed this book and go back and forth between Joe and Ranger.

    1. She is quite the character, that's for sure!


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