This post is a follow up to my post last month about Turbo Twenty-Three, where I made note of the timeline and recurring motifs.

Hardcore Twenty-Four is, as the title suggests, the twenty-fourth novel in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  It was published November 14th, 2017.

Time references:

There is no explicit mention of month/season in this book.  The only hint we get as to the time of year are references to the fact that people are wearing sweatshirts/sweaters and so we can assume that the weather has gotten chillier.  The book does refer to events that happened in Turbo Twenty-Three (namely Lula and Randy Brigg’s TV demo tapes), so it is feasible that the story starts soon after the events of the previous book.  That puts it at late September or early October.

There is also mention of the fact that Stephanie first met Diesel “several years ago at Christmas”, but that she hasn’t seen him “in over a year”.

Just as with the previous book, 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, Day 7 (Sunday), Day 8, Day 9, Day 10.  Given this, the story appears to begin on a Monday, and end the following week on a Wednesday.

The main mystery:

Where are the zombies coming from?  Bodies with missing heads are popping up all over Trenton, NJ.  One of Stephanie’s FTAs wants to film the zombies, but ends up going missing. And mysterious/magical Diesel (from the Between-the-Numbers books) is back in town.

FTAs:

  • Simon Diggory (grave robbing — repeat offender; also appeared in Turbo Twenty-Three)
  • Edward Koot (“Fifty-seven years old. Shot up a coffeehouse because he said they shorted him on his caramel macchiato.”)
  • Zero Slick (blew up an apartment building while cooking a massive batch of meth)
  • Johnny Chucci (armed robbery — went FTA a year prior and now rumoured to be back in town)
  • LeRoy Barker (drunk & disorderly — “LeRoy had a few too many cocktails, took all his clothes off, and fell asleep on the banquet table. When they tried to get him off the table he punched out the maitre d’.”)

Cast of (recurring) characters:

  • Bond agency employees: Lula, Connie (Vinnie’s very much behind the scenes and doesn’t make an appearance in this one)
  • Stephanie’s family: Mom & Dad, Grandma Mazur, Bob the dog and Rex the hamster
    • It’s an eventful couple of weeks for Grandma Mazur, who dated two men (one of whom she met online and almost went to Florida to meet), and got a dog named “Henry”.

“My Grandma Mazur moved in with my parents when my grandfather checked in to Hotel Heaven. My father is of the opinion that this left him in hell on earth.”

Team Morelli/Team Ranger/Team Diesel?:

For much of the book, Stephanie is determined to be committed to Morelli. She’s still tempted by Ranger, and now also tempted by Diesel. She definitely sleeps with Ranger near the end of the book, and there’s a hint that the same is about to happen with Diesel after the end of the book.

Cars:

The book starts with Stephanie driving an SUV that “was a POS that looked like it hadn’t been detailed in ten years.”  This quite confusing because Turbo Twenty-Three ends with her still having a nice black Lexus, so I guess it’s safe to assume that enough time has passed for her to have destroyed it and gotten a different car — which doesn’t have to be a very long time in Stephanie’s case.

While Stephanie is looking for an FTA at a demonstration, the SUV gets stolen and driven into the Delaware River.  She then gets a black Mercedes GLE SUV from Ranger.  The Mercedes gets trashed when Stephanie crashes into an outhouse.

She then gets a Lexus NX 330 F Sport from Ranger.  Using this car, she punts a zombie off the right front quarter panel, and temporarily drives Morelli’s green SUV while it’s undergoing forensic investigation. After getting the Lexus back, Stephanie trashes it by having a groundhog explode in the car after parking it in the sun — she picked up the groundhog as roadkill to feed Simon Diggory’s snake Ethel.

After than, Stephanie gives up and decides to drive Big Blue, “a 1953 blue and white Buick Roadmaster”.  The car is so indestructible that when a zombie tried to write something on it, it “couldn’t scratch through the paint”.

Since she doesn’t enjoy driving Big Blue, Stephanie borrows another car from Ranger. This time it’s a black Honda CR-V.

Final thoughts:

This book really wasn’t my cup of tea. I know from reading other people’s reviews that many thought the whole zombie thing was too ridiculous.  That’s not what I had a problem with… For me, it felt like the book took a while to get going, and there were too many throw-away scenes that were too rushed and too obviously tacked on purely for a joke.

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