I have finished the 69th book for the book challenge. It was High Five: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich.
Stephanie Plum is desperate for a FTA (Failure To Appear). She is a bond enforcement agent–a bounty hunter–and she needs to pay her rent. She takes a FTA for a concealed weapon jumper, a knife carrier, named Randy Briggs. He is a Little Person. She is having some trouble bringing him in.
In the meantime, Stephanie’s Uncle Fred has gone missing. Her Aunt Mabel has asked her to help find him. He went to do some errands and never came back. They found his car in the Grand Union parking lot with the dry cleaning in it but no Fred. So Stephanie begins the look out for Uncle Fred. Fred was supposed to go to RGC, the garbage company, to dispute his garbage bill. The company had not picked up his garbage even though he had paid his bill. He had his canceled check that he was going to take to show them. It was on his desk. But also in his desk are a roll of photos of a cut-up body in a plastic bag. Stephanie is alarmed. She takes the photos and the check. She goes to RGC and talks to the woman at RGC about the check. The woman and a man at RGC get into a squabble about the check. Stephanie says she’ll come back, but Fred had not come in.
Then a man called Bunchy shows up tailing Stephanie. He says he too is looking for Fred. He says that he is a bookie. But Stephanie asks around and no one seems to know anything about a bookie named Bunchy. He keeps tailing Stephanie wherever she goes. She keeps looking for Fred. She finds out that Fred had a girlfriend. He went to see her before he went missing. But she hasn’t seen him. A cashier at the Grand Union saw Fred talking to a man in the parking lot and get into a car. But she can’t describe the man. Stephanie also talks to the people at the bank where Uncle Fred’s check was cashed. Alan Shempsky is the branch manager. He doesn’t want to talk much.
Then the woman from RGC is found dead. Stephanie and Grandma Mazur go to the wake at Spiva’s Funeral Home. Bunchy shows up.
Stephanie is still in need of money. She manages to bring in Randy Briggs with Lula helping, only after dragging him down a flight of stairs. He is threatening to sue, so he is staying at Stephanie’s apartment while his apartment is being repaired after Stephanie and Lula wrecked his apartment. Stephanie takes a job helping Ranger with security on his apartment to make extra money. It’s a little scary. They throw out some drug dealers. A little later they go back to work security on the apartment again. Stephanie is caught in an ambush and the drug dealer blows himself up. Stephanie winds up in the hospital but all is well. Next she works as a chauffeur for a young Arab sheik. The young man is obnoxious. He steals her car. Then Ranger gives her a Porsche. Stephanie can’t believe it. She takes the car to RGC to talk to Larry Limpinski about the check. He was the man the dead woman was fighting with about Uncle Fred’s check. When she is in RGC, she finds him dead. It is an apparent suicide. And her car, the Porsche, blows up when sideswiped by a garbage truck. A bomb had been planted under it.
Also, Benito Ramirez, the pimp who had hurt Lula, is after Stephanie. He is stalking her and says he is going to get her. Stephanie is very afraid of him and has been careful to carry her gun, her stun gun, and her mace.
Morelli asks Stephanie to go with him to a cousin’s wedding. She buys a slinky black dress and killer heels. But she then decides to wear a less sexy dress to the wedding. At the wedding, she gets a call from a friend whom she asked to watch a particular house of a FTA. The guy is home and Stephanie leaves the wedding to go get the guy, a wife-beater. She manages to get him, with Morelli’s assistance. She doesn’t end up with Morelli that night.
Ranger gives Stephanie a BMW. She and Lula use the BMW to go to pick up another FTA, another wife-beater. They make the apprehension, but the BMW has been stolen. All that has been left are the hubcaps and the vehicle number. They have to call Vinnie for a ride.
Stephanie is convinced that Uncle Fred’s disappearance is linked to the cashing of checks at the branch bank. Another RGC employee has been murdered, who also dealt with checked, and a cable TV employee has been killed as well. All these people had checks that were cashed at the branch bank. Stephanie thinks that there has been skimming going on.
Morelli tells her that he is working with the Feds and that Bunchy isn’t a bookie. He is working with Bunchy.
Stephanie returns home one night and finds Alan Shempsky in her bedroom. He says he is going to kill her. He has been involved in the skimming at the bank. He has killed all the people at RGC who were involved in skimming. Suddenly Ramirez appears in Stephanie’s window. Shempsky shoots him dead. Stephanie runs downstairs and calls the police and Shempsky gets away. Briggs was tied up in Stephanie’s closet. She lets him out and he goes home.
Stephanie has another job driving the young Arab sheik. She picks him up in the blue Buick with Grandma Mazur. The young man is not too pleased, but then Stephanie gets a call that Shempsky has been spotted near the Newark Airport. She finds him and goes after him. Stephanie, Grandma Mazur, and the young sheik take down Shempsky.
Uncle Fred has been dead for two weeks. He was killed by Shempsky. Aunt Mabel has already come to terms with Uncle Fred’s absence. She has bought a new car and new furniture. She is going to take a cruise. They do, however, have to have a closed casket. Grandma Mazur isn’t happy about this, but what are you going to do?
Back home, Stephanie puts on her slinky black dress and killer heels. She puts Morelli’s name and Ranger’s name in a bowl and draws out one name (with peeking). Then she makes a call. The man whose name she draws out comes over. The dress comes off. The book ends.
This is another good fun Stephanie Plum novel. Stephanie gets in an incredible amount of trouble without even trying. But she always manages to have a lot of fun and this book is filled with humor. Lula does not figure as prominently in book as in previous books, and I sort of miss her antics. I liked the tension between Stephanie and Ranger, however. That was an interesting twist.