In this adventure, Stephanie is once again looking for someone outside of the regular FTAs. Her neighbor/family friend, Mabel, has asked her to find her daughter and granddaughter, who have skipped town on a child custody bond. Evanovich describes this as money put forth by divorced parents, who either chose or were court-ordered, to ensure that they would not kidnap their own child… or something like that.
Unfortunately, Eddie Abruzzi has his own interests in finding Evelyn and Annie (the missing persons) and is determined to scare off Stephanie to do so. She fights …. A new character appears in this book in the form of a very young, nervous lawyer named Albert Kloughn (and that is K-l-o-u-g-h-n, not c-l-o-w-n, which he manages to point out an annoying number of times). He tags along with Stephanie and Lula and generally gets in the way whenever he can. I was not too fond of him.
I absolutely loved the romance between Ranger and Steph in this book. She and Morelli had a bit of a falling out in the previous book, and Ranger sort of takes his place (in a non-boyfriend, much more mysterious way). Of course, Evanovich had to create a Terry Gilman equivalent (I forgot to mention her… she used to date Morelli and is involved with him through the police dept. these days), with Jeanne Ellen Burrows, who the blurb coins, “Rangerette.” She’s better than Stephanie at bounty hunting, and has been linked to Ranger… I’ll just say now that I think she was professional and interesting, but Steph just gets jealous of her past with Ranger.
I really enjoyed Hard Eight. Of course, I love Ranger as a character, but because of his romance and Eddie Abruzzi scaring the crap out of Stephanie the whole book, the laughter was scarce. It felt more apart of a series, where the rest of the books almost had a standalone feel.
In this adventure, Vinnie posted bail on an immigrant, Samuel Singh, granting him three months of legal stay in the United States. With just a couple weeks left on his ticket, Singh goes missing. Vinnie puts both Stephanie and Ranger on the case. Unfortunately, the first lead Stephanie gets winds up dead WHILE talking to her.
She starts receiving red roses, white carnations, disturbing notes, and pictures that put the notes to shame. Ranger and his posse take turns watching her back, and though she manages to keep the car explosion numbers down, she has no problem having Ranger’s ‘Merry Men’ get injured (a lot) while protecting her.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Steph, Lula (who is a better character now), and Connie end up going to Las Vegas to search for Singh. Also, Albert stops being annoying and starts being a lovable guy. Steph’s sister Valerie also is living with their parents with her two kids, so everything is hectic and wild and fun.
I laughed a lot in this book… At one point, Stephanie beats the crap out of some guy who was trying to kill her. After Ranger finds out, of course, all he does is grin and congratulate her. The scene made me laugh for probably a straight minute. Finally, she’s starting to hold her own!
Another part that made me laugh for a while was when Ranger and Stephanie went to pick up an FTA, and he decided to shoot at them. While still standing in the doorway, Ranger ‘instinctively’ pushes Stephanie off the stoop into a bush, and later said he was just concerned for her safety, while really he was just getting back at her for a joke she played on him.
Overall, this book was good, the writing was excellent, and the plot was decent. I really like that Evanovich started working more on her character dynamics. It makes the books feel more a part of a series rather than just mystery novels that happen to have the same names in them.