Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich: A review

The most inept bounty hunter in the state of New Jersey and possibly on the face of the earth, along with her equally inept sidekick, is at it again. Yes, Stephanie Plum and Lula are busily chasing skips around Trenton. Chasing, rarely catching.

This time, Stephanie is on the trail of Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility. Geoffrey mysteriously disappeared from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now Stephanie needs to find him so that her boss, Vinnie, will not have to forfeit all that bond money. But Cubbin has vanished without a trace, without a clue, and five million dollars of embezzled funds are missing.

Things take a sinister turn when it becomes known that Cubbin isn't the first patient to vanish from this hospital. He isn't the last either, for soon, another post-surgery patient who was facing trial also vanishes in the middle of the night. What could be happening here? Obviously, they must be receiving help from somewhere, but from whom and why? And does it have a connection to another mysterious medical facility simply called The Clinic? A night nurse at the hospital also moonlights at The Clinic so there is a link, but beyond that, Stephanie and her team are unable to find out what is going on. Or to find Geoffrey Cubbin.

As usual, Stephanie gets help from her crazy Grandma Mazur in breaking the case. Grandma goes undercover at the assisted living facility to see if she can get a lead and she provides the clue that finally cracks the facade of deception.

Meanwhile, Stephanie is doing her own moonlighting with the security firm of the hot and sexy Ranger. Their case leads them back into Ranger's days with Special Forces. It seems that a member of his former unit that he thought was dead may not be. He's back and looking for vengeance for some imagined fault of Ranger's and another member of the group.  The question is will Ranger be able to track him down before he starts killing the people against whom he has a grudge.

Of course, while all of this is going on, Stephanie is also chasing her usual caseload of low-level skips and losers and she keeps missing them in her usual helter skelter fashion. In that she is most ineptly assisted by Lula.

Lula is a really problematic character for me. She is such a stereotype. She is fat and constantly thinks about food or sex - mostly food, in this entry. She is black. She wears outrageous costumes and hairstyles. She is a former whore - or "'ho" in her vocabulary. Her humor is mostly scatological. In other words, she's the typical big, brassy, black woman of so many blaxpoitation movies and television shows. I really find her offensive.

As for Stephanie, she's a caricature of  another kind - the cute, perky nincompoop whom all the boys are crazy for. She has two hot guys, the good guy cop Morelli and the dangerous guy Ranger, constantly panting after her and vying to get her into bed. It's never made clear just what her attraction is for these two perfect specimens. It's a fantasy worthy of any romance novel. 

In fact, that is pretty much what the Stephanie Plum novels are - romance masquerading as mystery.  They are fun reads and they certainly don't tax the brain or the emotions. Just don't expect too much from them and you won't be disappointed. 


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