I have read the 140th book for the book challenge. It was Hard Eight: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich.
Stephanie is trying to bring in FTA Andy Bender, a particular nasty piece of work. She has lost more pairs of handcuffs than she can count and he has shot at her more often than she wants to remember. She finally resorts to taking Vinnie with her. That doesn’t even turn out well. Bender manages to scare off even Vinnie and Lula. Like I said, he’s a bad customer.
Ranger has also come to collect on the debt that Stephanie owes him. Ranger shows up one night and decides it is time. Stephanie is nervous. But it is quite the experience. Wow!
Mabel, the next-door-neighbor to the Plum’s, asks Stephanie to find her daughter Evelyn. She has disappear with her granddaughter Annie. She has skipped on a child custody bond. Her ex-husband Steve Soder is looking for her, as is her landlord, Abruzzi. Stephanie finds Evelyn’s lawyer Albert Kloughn, who wants to go on her bounty hunting stops with her. He is a pain in the ass and provides no real help in finding Evelyn. But he does provide a job for Valerie, Stephanie’s sister, and becomes Valerie’s boyfriend.
Stephanie finds Dotty, Evelyn’s former best friend and watches her. She thinks Dotty is helping Evelyn. Then strange things start happening to Stephanie. A bag of snakes is put outside her apartment. Then spiders are put in her car. Then a dead, sawed in half Steve Soder is found in her apartment. She is totally freaked out. Then she is being followed and tormented by a guy in a rabbit suit and a guy in a Bill Clinton mask. They try to kidnap her on numerous occasions.
Stephanie gets Ranger to install a security system at her apartment after the break-in. That helps her piece of mind a little but she has Rex go to stay with Morelli anyway. The rabbit and the masked guy blow up her car. Ranger gets her another car. She finds Dotty and Evelyn and tries to talk to them but misses them. She enlists Ranger’s help.
On the way to the bakery on Sunday morning, the rabbit and the guy with the mask kidnap Grandma Mazur. Stephanie goes after them and they kidnap her. Stephanie manages to get them free.
Ranger has found Evelyn. She is at the airport. She and Dotty are going to Miami with the medal her daughter stole from Abruzzi. They will sell it and live on the proceeds. Stephanie lets them go.
Stephanie’s mother runs down the rabbit and kills him when he is trying to abduct Stephanie in the street.
The guy in the mask kidnaps Stephanie and takes her to Abruzzi. He wants his medal that Evelyn’s daughter stole. He tortures her to get information from Stephanie. He burns her with a hot poker. Ranger and Morelli come to the rescue. Morelli takes Stephanie to the hospital. Later they hear that Abruzzi has committed suicide, but they know that Ranger has killed Abruzzi for hurting Stephanie.
This was one of the darkest Plum novels. The guy in the rabbit suit and the guy in the mask were sadists and were tormenting Stephanie. And Abruzzi was a very dark and mean character. There was some very serious stuff going on in this book that doesn’t take place in the other books. Helen Plum actually kills the guy in the rabbit suit with her car when he is attempting to kidnap Stephanie. That’s pretty heavy stuff. Helen is very upset afterwards. So is Stephanie. She hates that her parents have been dragged into her problems. But she is glad her mother happened along when she did. She also hated that her grandmother was kidnapped to get to her. That wasn’t right. It just shows how ruthless Abruzzi’s people were. Like I said, this was a dark story. But it was a good plot and like all Evanovich’s stories, I liked it very much.