Top Secret Twenty-One - Janet EvanovichOne of the first previews I wrote for this site was for Takedown Twenty back in December. Now barely six months later, the follow-up is hitting the bookshops. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich ably demonstrates that there’s just no stopping Stephanie Plum, everybody’s favourite bounty hunter.

We’re in Trenton, New Jersey, and Stephanie has to track down a used-car dealer who’s failed to turn up for his day in court. It’s not going to be plain sailing (is it ever?): the trail keeps drying up and the body count seems to be mounting. Joe Morelli, Stephanie’s on-off NJPD love interest is drawing a blank too.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and Stephanie is forced to do something she really doesn’t want to: 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. He’s now become the next man on Poletti’s hit list.

Ranger’s back on the scene too, so things are complicated for Stephanie – and if that weren’t bad enough, he’s been the target of an assassination plot. He’s going to have to open up a little more if Stephanie’s going to be able to help him dodge that bullet a second time.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and a pack of feral Chihuahuas – it’s all in a day’s work for Plum

This looks like the customary mix of humour, hard-boiled hokum and fast-paced action that fans love so much. Evanovich clearly has a great deal of empathy with her leading lady and some have suggested that she might even something of a self-portrait. Her reply? “I wouldn’t go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.”