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Fearless Fourteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel    by Janet Evanovich order for
Fearless Fourteen
by Janet Evanovich
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fearless Fourteen was my first encounter with bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum - after reading it I can understand the appeal the feckless bounty hunter has for her multitude of fans. Readers get to enjoy all kinds of over the top characters in improbable - often farcical - situations, as well as Stephanie's love triangle involving ex-bad boy, policeman Joe Morelli (with whom she lives) and hot ex-Special Forces security consultant Ranger (with whom she often works).

This time, a regular bond job turns Stephanie into a babysitter for young 'desperate geek' Zook after his mother Loretta (a relative of Morelli's and possibly more) is returned to lock-up. Zook spends his time (when not at school or painting everything in sight) locked into Minionfire, 'the world's most popular, most powerful, totally awesome, badass difficult game', and soon drags every minor character in the story into its orbit, including Stephanie's remarkable Grandma Mazur who morphs with nary a blink into Goth Grandma from Hell, ready to 'lay waste to the griefer' in Minionfire.

Stephanie is also hired by Ranger to help him provide security for famous singer Brenda, 'to keep her dry and drug-free and out of harm's way.' They succeed in that, but not in keeping her out of Stephanie's life and profession. A minor - but highly entertaining - plot thread follows Stephanie's associate, ex-whore Lula as she decides it's time for Ranger's next-in-command Tank to marry her. Lula informs him that he's proposed (complete with the ring that she acquired) and starts planning a wedding. And there's Brenda's stalker (also her cousin) Gary, who has visions of Brenda coming under attack by a giant pizza.

Zook's hot-tempered uncle Dom is out of jail after serving time for a bank robbery (the money wasn't recovered). Now, his fellow thieves want their cut, but everyone believes the key to locating the cash is somewhere in Morelli's house, that used to belong to Dom's aunt. At home, Stephanie keeps her aplomb as she stumbles over dead bodies and treasure hunters both indoors and outside. Then Zook's mother is kidnapped and the perp (one of the thieves with an inside track on what the good guys are up to) threatens worse violence.

Of course, it's all resolved in the end after a series of hilarious antics involving blue dye, a monkey, potato rocketry and much, much more. If you like light-hearted tongue-firmly-in-cheek cozy mysteries that don't take themselves seriously at all, then you won't go wrong - and will have tons of fun - with Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.

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