This post is a continuation of my mission to document the timeline and recurring motifs in the Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. To see more posts on the topic, click here

Look Alive Twenty-Five is, as the title suggests, the twenty-fifth novel in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  It was published November 13th, 2018.

Time references:

During the first day of action, the book explicitly states that it takes place in September.  Part of the action also takes place during Stephanie’s sister Valerie’s birthday.  I recall that as a bonus, one of the hardcover publications in the series had a calendar in the back that had noted the birth dates of various series characters.  I can’t recall specifically which book it was or whether Valerie’s birthday was listed on it, but I intend to look into it to see if it can help further pinpoint the timeline.

I’m not sure what to make of this given the series timeline.  Turbo Twenty-Three stated that it took place in mid-September, and it’s impossible for the action of that book and the action of Hardcore Twenty-Four to have all happened before the end of that month.

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 (Tuesday), [no Wednesday], Day 3 (Thursday), Day 4 (Friday), Day 5 (Saturday), Day 6 (Sunday), Day 7 (Monday), Day 8, Day 9, Day 10 (Thursday).  Given this, the story appears to begin on a Monday, and end the following week on a Thursday.

The curious thing is that the first Wednesday is inexplicably missing.  A lot of action takes place on Tuesday (which is explicitly mentioned at the beginning of that day), and the day ends with Stephanie arriving home and calling Morelli to ask if he’s up for hanging out the following day.  Then the next chapter begins with the mention that Stephanie has lost track of time and it’s already Thursday.  It’s feasible that the missing day was due to the fact that Stephanie and Morelli just spent it hanging out together, but there are other clues in the book that makes it seem like that’s not possible — like Lula mentioning on Thursday that this is the second day in a row that Stephanie has shown up to work with a Rangeman security guard.

The main mystery:

What is happening to the deli managers?  The Bail Bonds business is now owner of the Red River Deli, which was put up as collateral for a bond that skipped town.  Stephanie and Lula have been tasked with managing it, but they soon find out that the last three managers of the deli have disappeared while going out to take out the garbage, leaving only a single shoe behind.

FTAs:

  • Ernie Sitz (Racketeering. Former owner of the Red River Deli.)
  • Victor Waggle (Stabbed two people on State Street and urinated on their dog. Frontman of The Rockin’ Armpits.)
  • Annie Gurky (Shoplifting while drunk and disorderly.)
  • Wayne Kulicki (Eat and Go shorted him on his fries, so he destroyed the place. Was abducted as a Deli manager.)
  • Darren Boot (Forty-two years old. Stolen a cop car and driven it through the front windown of a 7-Eleven.)
  • Walter Jesus Santiago (AKA Tarzan, AKA Forest Kottel.)

Cast of (recurring) characters:

  • Bond agency:  Vinnie, Connie, and Lula (who is no longer introduced as a file clerk)

I’m assisted by Lula. We’re not sure exactly what Lula does, and we’ve never been able to come up with a title for her.

  • Stephanie’s family:
    • Mom & Dad
      • Mom’s drinking is getting more blatant
    • Grandma Mazur
      • no mention of Grandma’s puppy from the previous book
      • no quote regarding Stephanie’s grandfather
      • ***spoiler: runs off with Jimmy Rossoli (Connie’s mobster uncle)***
    • sister Valerie, brother-in-law Albert Kloughn, and nieces and nephew: Angie, Mary Alice, 2 year old Lisa and baby Bert
    • plus Bob the dog and Rex the hamster
  • Other recurring characters:
    • love interests: Joe Morelli and Ranger
    • Gerwulf “Wulf” Grimoire, Diesel’s Swiss cousin; has an adversarial relationship with Ranger
    • Tank & Hal (Rangeman employees)
    • Morelli’s brother Anthony and cousin Mooch
    • mention of Stephanie’s cat-lady neighbour Mrs. Delgado (and Mr Macko across the hall)

Team Morelli/Team Ranger:

In this book, Stephanie is pretty much resigned to the arrangement that she has with Morelli. Morelli is clearly her boyfriend, and they try to make time to hang out with each other.  But at the same time, she still has Ranger on her mind and is constantly fighting the urge to act on his advances. At one point, when she’s feeling quite distraught, she asks Ranger to kiss her.

“Kissing is cheating a little. I can deal with it. If we go upstairs it’s going to be cheating big-time.”

Cars:

For most of the book, Stephanie is getting rides from Ranger’s men, who have been assigned to guard her.  There are no car deaths in this book, and Big Blue does not make an appearance, but we do get an appearance by a car from Stephanie’s past:

My car is an ancient faded blue Chevy Nova. It has a lot of rust, and a while back someone rudely spray-painted pussy on it. I covered the writing with silver Rust-Oleum glitter paint that was on sale. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough paint to cover the whole car.

This is the same car that Stephanie buys during desperate times at the beginning of One for the Money.

Final thoughts:

I liked this book more than the previous one since it was less focused on the supernatural.  However, this book was in other ways a bit unusual for a Stephanie Plum novel.

First of all, there’s very little interaction with Stephanie’s family.  Instead, there’s a lot of involvement from Ranger, and subsequently we get to meet a lot of Rangeman employees, which really gives a better sense of how large the company is now.

At the same time, I think this really highlights some of the issues with the book series and why some readers may have gotten tired of it. Contrasted with the terror and suspense I felt while re-reading One for the Money, I did not feel like Stephanie’s life was in any danger in this one.  She is much too well-protected by the men in her life, and particularly Ranger and his company resources.  I think that for the next book in the series, it would be a good idea for Ranger to take a bit of a vacation.

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