I read the 42nd book for the book challenge. It was Three To Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich.
This is the third Stephanie Plum mystery. Stephanie is still working as a bond recovery agent for her cousin Vinnie, in other words, a bounty hunter. With part-time file clerk and bounty-hunter-in-training Lula, Stephanie takes a FTA (failure to appear) named Moses Bedemier, the candy and ice-cream store man who was arrested on a gun possession charge. His store is locked up and no one has seen Mo around in several days. This is very strange. Stephanie and Lula snoop around the store and Mo’s apartment over the store but find nothing. They visit his sister in Newark who hasn’t seen him either.
Stephanie goes back to the apartment, which they have broken into, and finds Mo’s keys to the store and goes into the store at night. She hear a noise and knows someone else is coming into the store. She goes into the bathroom to hide. She wakes up with a concussion and a dead body on top of her. A drug dealer has been shot in Mo’s store. Joe Morelli is called to the scene. He is now working homicide. Stephanie is traumatized.
Stephanie and Lula are still looking for Mo. They have heard he was seen in an area of town frequented by drug dealers and where there is a fundamentalist church. They are also trying to get Lula’s friend Jackie into rehab. She is upset with her boyfriend/pimp/dealer Cameron Brown. They go to see Jackie but find Cameron shot dead. This is the second drug dealer they have come across dead.
The girls decide that while they are looking for Mo, they will also take another FTA case. They look for Stuart Badgett. He works at the hot dog place in the mall. He gets away from them and they don’t make the apprehension.
They go back to Mo’s store. Stephanie is accosted by two men dressed all in black who tell her to leave Mo alone. They burn her with a cigarette and tell her that Mo is doing good work and that if she doesn’t leave Mo alone, they will kill her. Stephanie has also bought a new Nissan truck that keeps stalling. She keeps taking it to the dealership and they keep fixing it but it still keeps stalling so she has to resort to using the old Buick.
Stephanie and Lula have another Mo sighting, this time in an apartment building. They knock on all the doors of the building with Morelli but don’t find him. Then they spot Mo in the car he stole from Ranger with a body in the car driving down the highway. Stephanie and Lula give chase in Lula’s Firebird. The body bounces out onto Lula’s windshield. They stop and put the body in Lula’s trunk and take it to the Trenton police station where Morelli and his team take care of things. Then back at Mo’s store, as they investigate the cellar, they find four bodies buried in the cellar. And in the burg, another dead drug dealer is found. Someone–is it Mo?–is murdering drug dealers. And the people are glad and are actually protecting Mo. Stephanie is continuing to get threatening phone calls and visits from the men dressed in black but she has managed to get away from them before they have killed her–or Rex, her hamster.
Then things start to come together. It seems that Mo has a boyfriend and that he makes dirty movies. Stephanie and Lula learn the location of the house where he makes his porno movies and go to the house. They call Ranger for backup. While they are there, Mo explains everything. He got in with these vigilante guys who killed these drug dealers. Mo pointed them out and they killed them. He couldn’t get out. Then the vigilantes show up. They lob a rocket at Stephanie’s truck (which is now running fine thanks to Morelli’s mechanic) and destroy it. Morelli and the cops show up and apprehend the vigilantes and Mo. The reign of terror in the burg is over. Stephanie has her apprehension, finally. And she can go home in peace and quiet to Rex.
I quite like these Stephanie Plum mysteries. I like the tension between Stephanie and Morelli, how they never quite seem to get together. Stephanie is such a screw up but somehow she always manages to come out on top with the help of Ranger and Morelli and her own wits. And Lula helps and adds comic relief. And then there’s Rex. You have to love Rex. Anyone with a hamster is lovable.