My Rating: 2-1/2 out of 5 Stars
Sadly, it has become more and more difficult to give the Stephanie Plum books my usual 4 stars for humor and fun. The last two were just not as funny as the first 18. But what can you expect? How long can you keep the same jokes and same love entanglements going on? Takedown Twenty has convinced me that the number is definitely less than 20. I have been saying for years that the constant leaping back and forth between the handsome and oh-so-husband-worthy Morelli and the Uber-sexy, but totally undomesticated Ranger needed to stop. I stand by that observation, only now it has just all become so tedious and unpleasant that I can no longer justify Evanovich keeping this series alive. She should have wrapped it up a few books ago, while it was at its peak.
Takedown Twenty was painful for me to read, as a petty-sounding Stephanie spends half the book complaining about Morelli’s big Italian family, and suddenly making him out to be pretty much of a boring schmuck. I really thought she was going to dump him so she could roll in the hay again with Ranger, who, btw, told her flat-out he didn’t intend to “pay the price” for being with her. What? The jokes were so tired and stale, even a giraffe on the loose for days and days (which no one could find…again, what???) didn’t even liven it up. And the final explanation for what the giraffe was doing in the Burg was too stupid for words. The books have always been formulaic, but the formula worked because the dialog was snappy, the men were interesting, Stephanie was someone you could identify with, and all the side characters were hilarious. None of those things were true this time.
It breaks my heart, but I believe it is time for me to write my own ending for Stephanie, and wrap up the story in my own mind, to my own personal satisfaction. So, here it is: Stephanie suddenly realizes that she has strung Joe Morelli along long enough. She tells Ranger to peddle his Bulgari-scented goods elsewhere, marries Joe, and they start their own private investigation firm. They intimidate witnesses into talking by siccing both of their grandmothers on anyone who refuses to divulge information. Grandma Mazur waves her giant pistol around, shooting random inanimate objects, and Joe’s grandmother puts the Evil Eye on them, unless they spill their guts. They are very successful and Joe can finally afford to finish fixing up his house. His dog, Bob quits horking up lingerie on the carpet, and Stephanie’s hamster gets a giant Habitrail to run around in to his heart’s content. Lula keeps doing what she does so well…dressing badly and eating at Cluck In a Bucket. Vinnie runs away to Vegas after he’s caught fooling around with the livestock at a petting zoo, and Connie runs off with a hunky UPS guy. And they all live happily ever after. The End. Works for me!
If you are not convinced to avoid this mishmash of a book by the above review, here is the link for you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. And hey, there’s always a chance you haven’t reached the same saturation point that I have. You might enjoy it. I know I LOVED the first 15 or 16. It will always be one of my favorite series. It’s just that it’s gone on way too long now. Only my personal opinion. Around my house, that doesn’t count for all that much, anyway.