Tricky twenty-two by Janet Evanovich
Headline, 2015. ISBN 9781472201652
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Crime fiction. Humour. Biological warfare. Stephanie Plum is back for the umpteenth time, solving crime while looking for bail absconders in Trenton, New Jersey, the home of her birth. She is an amazing character, seriously flawed, unable to make up her mind between high school sweetheart, Morelli, beloved of her family, and the outrageously cool Ranger, a security expert.
In this laugh out loud episode, Stephanie is called to take a young man to court but instead finds him dead. He is one of a college hall called Zeta, one that some of the powers at the school would like closed down. But looking further, Stephanie becomes aware of a locked cellar where experiments with fireworks have been going on, and breaking in finds aquaria full of fleas.
Blood in the fridge sends Lula into hysterics, and the links between blood, fleas and a top security biological warfare laboratory now closed down, becomes clear.
There follows a heart-stopping ride as Stephanie is kidnapped by the insane professor, seriously upset that his plans were not funded, and handcuffed and drugged to allow him to take her blood.
What the blood is for will make some readers squeamish, but as Ranger has a tracking device on all of his cars, he is able to find her, but only after she has managed to get free.
The relationships between Stephanie and her family as well as Morelli and Ranger are enough to keep the reader reading and laughing, while the plot line of the mad professor is an added bonus to keep the pages going over. Each of the main characters is quite engrossing, and the background characters, Lula, Vinnie, Stephanie's parents and grandmother have developed lives of their own in this escapist series. Grandma always finds some gossip relevant to the work Stephanie is doing at the time, while at one of her funeral home viewings, and somehow the streets of Trenton always find their way into the book. The background setting is always clearly delineated and Evanovich talks of it with a sound knowledge and affection which is enthralling.