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Book Reviews

Milt Gross Book Review: "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
By Milt Gross
Apr 13, 2015 - 8:30:03 PM

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Smokin' Seventeen is another good one from Janet Evanovich, all of which take place in Trenton, NJ, where I once drove through and hoped I'd never have to again. Photo by Milt Gross
I don't know if it's the location, Trenton, NJ, that has held my interest in all the Janet Evanovich novels I've read. But the location is part of it. I've only driven through Trenton once, carefully keeping my eyes straight ahead on the road so as not to see the unfriendly-looking groups hanging around on porches, steps, or from open windows.

At least they didn't look friendly. And with every Evanovich novel I read, the memories of that trip come back. No, I wasn't chased, harassed, or romanticized (new word, possibly) as was Stephanie Plum, the bond bailswoman hero.

The rear cover of this paperback tells it well; "Dead end bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie's name is on the killer's list. Short on time to find the murderer, Stephanie is also under pressure from family and friends to choose between her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie's mom wants her to dump them both for a former high school football star who's just returned to town....

"With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie's life looks like it's about to go up in smoke," back page of Smokin' Seventeen.

That's the plot, but half the fun...maybe more than half...are the comic predicaments that Plumb finds herself in as she tries to go about her daily work of bringing in the guys who have skipped court and so endangered the chance of Stephanie's boss' seeing his bail money returned.

The New York Times review states, "No less than her plotting, Evanovich's characterizations are models of screwball artistry....The intricate plot machinery of her comic capers is fueled by inventive twists."

As in all Evanovich's Stephanie Plum humorous mysteries, it's the light-hearted side of the action that kept me glued to the page...despite the TV making sounds I try to ignore, a cat pressing his sharp elbows (four of them) down on my lap, and the refreshments Dolores serves part way through the evening.

This 2011 Bantam Books publication is well worth the $6.29 price on the cover or the $8.99 price for the paperback. Their Kindle price is $6.99.

I probably won't read it again, so you can borrow my copy if you can find our house, which won't take as much detective work at Plum does in the story.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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