Book: Hard Eight | Author: Janet Evanovich | Started: 3/18/14 | Finished: 3/19/14 | Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared.
Evelyn’s estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. During the divorce proceedings, he and Evelyn signed a child custody bond, and Steven is demanding the money guaranteed by the bond to find Annie. The money was secured by a mortgage on Evelyn’s grandmother’s house, and the True Blue Bonds Bail Agency wants to take possession of the house.
Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn’s grandmother lives next door to Stephanie’s parents, and Stephanie’s mother and grandmother are not about to see their neighbor lose her house because of abduction.
Even though Stephanie’s plate is full with miscreants who missed their court dates, including old nemesis and violent drunk Andy Bender and an elusive little old lady accused of grand theft auto, she can’t disappoint Grandma Mazur! So she follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn– and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Steven is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiance Joe Morelli and Stephanie’s mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it’s Abruzzi’s eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie the most. Stephanie needs Ranger’s savvy and expertise, and she’s willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean becoming too involved with Ranger.
Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who’s not going to miss riding with Ranger), and Evelyn’s lawyer/laundromat manager set out to find Annie. The search turns out to be a race among Stephanie’s posse, the True Blue Bonds’ agent, a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows, and the Abruzzi crew. Not to mention the fact that there’s a killer rabbit on the loose!
Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life. Hard Eight. The world of Plum has never been wilder.
My review: The characters. The characters. The characters. DEVELOPMENT. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Okay, I started this series with book 5, then skipped to 17 and 19 and then went back to the start. When I went back to book number one, I noticed that some characters were so different and some were still their witty hilarious self. Now that I’ve read the last 8 in a row, I can say that I’ve seen these characters come together, grow apart, change, grow, and some always seem to stay the same. Evanovich is a master at writing about a bounty hunter for 20+ books with all the same characters and still making every book different enough to not get boring. I read these books for the mystery, humor, and for the characters.
I love the romance in these books too and I love her relationship with both Ranger and Morelli. If you know anything about me, you know I hate love triangles, so why would I like this one? Well probably because these people are not teenagers and Stephanie isn’t shown as “needing” either guy. I also hate the “”perfect”” guy so why would I like either of these guys? Because they aren’t perfect even if they seem perfect. Ranger is dark and mysterious (and sexy) but he also has trust issues and doesn’t open up to people. Morelli is in love with Stephanie but wants her to quit her job. Both men have flaws but both care about Stephanie enough to let her do what she wants. Every book I end up wanting her to end up with one of the guys and then the next book I end up switching guys. This book was definitely a Ranger book. Their relationship grew a lot more in this book.
As I’ve said, there are some characters that stay the same. Lula and Grandma Mazur are those characters. Lula is still witty and hilarious. I really do think she’s my spirit animal. “I’m late for work on account of I go to night school now.” “You go once a week.” “Yeah but I gotta study. It’s not like this shit comes easy. It’s not like my former occupation as a ho helps me out, you know. I don’t think my final exam’s gonna be about handjobs.” 20 page in and I’m already cracking up. Claps for you, Lula.
Then there’s Grandma who is described as “mid-seventies but doesn’t look a day over ninety.” She’s awkward and a little sexual but it’s hilarious and I’d love to be related to her.
This book was a tad bit different in the way that she wasn’t just picking up (and losing) FTA’s. [failure to appear] Stephanie was at her parents house when their neighbor stopped by and said she needed to talk to Stephanie about something. The neighbor told Stephanie that her daughter ran away and she wanted Stephanie to try to find her. Stephanie isn’t a private investigator but she took her on anyway. I thought Stephanie was a bad bounty hunter, but she’d be an even worse PI and that’s what made this book hilarious. Not only was she trying to find the woman, a few other people were as well. Stephanie had tough competition and it was awesome and sometimes scary watching her try to beat all of them.
100 pages in to the book, she lost a few different pairs of handcuffs, a stolen car, and had a few threats. How does she get into these situations? I kept track of how many times these things happened and it seems to get higher every book.
Things I took out of this book: I would love to job shadow her for a day and maybe life shadow her as well. Lula truly is my inspiration. Definitely Team Ranger.