We women eagerly await Janet Evanovich's newest Stephanie Plum novels, but the excitement over Finger Lickin' Fifteen was somewhat less than times past. I think we're ready for Stephanie to settle down with Joe and let the series come to an end. At least, I'm ready for the series to come to an end.
All the usual characters are here, Grandma Mazur, Lula, Ranger, Morelli, but the action is a little flat, like Evanovich isn't really trying. I usually am laughing out loud by the 2nd page or thereabouts, but not this time. It is funny...just not laugh out loud funny.
Lula witnesses a decapitation and then becomes the target of maniacal murderers trying to remove her from the scene. She moves in with Stephanie and the obligitory mayhem begins. Meanwhile, Ranger is having problems with his security business, break-ins that he can't seem to get under control. In a move that is possibly unwise, Evanovich makes him less than perfect. Stephanie is called in to help him catch the perpetrator.
Ranger talks too much. Sounds too ordinary. Even that sexy, one liner, "Babe" loses it's punch--overused. The characterization of Morelli is still right on and fresh, but the relationship seems hopeless. We've come two books too far and, though we understand that Morelli is right for Stephanie, we've also realized that Stephanie isn't right for Joe.
There is one haunting passage in the book that is not funny at all, and the writing is a cut above the fluff genre. Stephanie is speaking of Ranger, and she says, "I've never been able to find the place he would call home. Maybe it doesn't exist. Maybe he carries it inside him. Or maybe it's a place he hasn't yet discovered." With those lines, she brings him out of the bat cave and makes him human. And she leaves us conflicted.
Fluff novels should never leave readers conflicted.