Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels are a quirky series: since the first book was published in 1994, the character seemingly hasn’t aged at all, but the times sure have changed. There’s plenty of references to pop culture that would have been current at the time of each book’s publication. In addition to making note of other recurring themes, my goal in blogging about this series is to keep track of just how much time did go by since the events in the first book.
Turbo Twenty-Three is, as the title suggests, the twenty-third novel in the main series and it was published November 15th, 2016.
The story starts at “ten o’clock at night in mid-September”; Stephanie mentions that “for the past several years I’ve been tracking down Vinnie’s skips”, which confirms that at least “several years” have passed since the first novel.
The action takes place over approximately a week and a half. Not all days are referenced according to day of the week, but if we use that together with the number of times it’s referenced that Stephanie goes to sleep for the night, we can identify the following days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 (Friday), Day 6 (Saturday), [no action takes place on Sunday], Day 7 (Monday), Day 8, Day 9, Day 10. Given this, the story appears to begin on a Monday, and end the following week on a Thursday.
The main mystery:
Who killed Arnold Zigler? The Bogart Ice Cream company’s HR man was found frozen and covered in chocolate and chopped nuts in the back of an ice cream delivery van. On top of chasing down skips, Stephanie is recruited by Ranger to investigate security at the ice cream plant.
- Larry Virgil (highjacking an 18-wheeler filled with bourbon)
- Simon Diggory (grave robbing — repeat offender)
- Eugenie Winkle (assault with a deadly weapon)
- Bernard Smitch (a mime that pooped in the middle of the street — obstruction of traffic and making a general nuisance of himself),
- low-bond shop-lifter (never pursued)
- Dottie Loosey (an alcoholic–arrested for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon)
- Benjamin Kwan (human trafficking)
Cast of (recurring) characters:
- Bond agency employees: Vinnie, Lula, Connie
- Stephanie’s family: Mom & Dad, Grandma Mazur
“She moved in when Grandpa moved into Hotel Heaven, and she never moved out.”
- Pets: Bob the dog and Rex the hamster
- Others: Eddie Gazarra, Randy Briggs, Mrs Delgado (Stephanie’s upstairs neighbour)
Team Morelli/Team Ranger:
The book starts with a summary of the current status of Stephanie’s relationship with Morelli: “a couple weeks ago, in a moment of euphoria, Morelli and I agreed to being engaged to be engaged”.
At this point in the series, Stephanie has a comfortable relationship with Morelli: they stay over at each others’ apartments, they know each other’s schedules. At the same time, she is still letting Ranger kiss her.
Close to the end of the book, she ends up sleeping with Ranger after he points out that Morelli is stringing her along and is not likely to commit to her. As Stephanie sees it:
“He avoided dinner with my parents so he didn’t have to talk about it. The subject never came up between us. Not even during intimate moments. Plus, there was the billiard table. Initially I thought he was saving his money to buy me a ring, but he bought the table with the money. Face facts, Stephanie, when a man is thinking about marriage and starting a family he doesn’t replace his dining-room table with a billiard table. Besides, I don’t even like billiards.” (p.270)
But soon after, by the end of the book, Stephanie is back to preferring a relationship with Morelli:
“Truth is, my relationship with Morelli was probably okay. It didn’t really matter that we weren’t engaged to be engaged right now. We cared about each other. We enjoyed being together. And maybe sometime in the future we’d move forward with the marriage and family thing. End of discussion.” (p.277)
The book starts with Stephanie owning a ten-year-old Jeep Cherokee.
“I’d gotten the car on the cheap at Big Boomer’s Car Lot. It had survived a flood somewhere in the Midwest and was perfect if you didn’t count the electrical system and the slight scent of mold coming from the backseat.” (p.22)
The car suffers a minor accident about midway through the book when it crashes into a streetlight. The car still runs so it’s not a true car death, but Stephanie ends up replacing it with a 2013 black Lexus GSF that she bought from Gaylord Brown, a friend of Lula’s in rural Pennsylvania.
“It was a great car. And even if it was stolen, chances were good that by the time the police caught up with me, the car would already have been flattened by a cement truck. My cars didn’t last all that long.” (p.171)
As usual, Stephanie experiences some close calls:
- the ice cream van she was just in blows up
- she’s almost stabbed in her bed by an intruding clown
- she’s almost frozen to death in a mortuary
I noticed while reading this book that Stephanie’s finances are no longer as dire as they had been at the beginning of the series. She has a MacBook, money for a new car, and at least some food in the fridge.
This book might also have one of the few times Stephanie’s dad says more than just grunt… when he gets super excited about the prospect of Grandma Mazur moving in with her new boyfriend.