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

High Five is, as the title suggests, the fifth novel in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  It was published July 16th, 1999.

The main mystery:

Stephanie’s uncle Fred has gone missing after a dispute with the garbage company. Meanwhile, photos of body parts in a garbage bag have turned up in uncle Fred’s drawer, and multiple garbage company employees have turned up dead. And to top it all off, Benito Ramirez is out on parole.

Time references:

During the first day of action, the book explicitly states that it takes place in October, and later on in the story there are references made to Halloween coming up.

As is typical for the series, the action takes place over approximately one and a half weeks. The action starts on a Monday morning (Day 1) and, based on the number of times it’s referenced that Stephanie goes to sleep for the night as well as occasional references to days of the week it, the action ends on a Friday (Day 12). There is also a denoument/epilogue that takes place on the following Wednesday.

FTAs:

  • Randy Briggs — charged with carrying concealed
  • Alphonse Ruzick (Ranger’s FTA that Stephanie helps with) — armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon
  • Kenyon Lally — wife beater

Cast of (recurring) characters:

  • Bond agency: 
    • Vinnie;
    • Connie;
    • Lula;
    • Joyce Barnhardt is briefly mentioned as still working for Vinnie as a part-time bounty hunter, although she doesn’t actually make an appearance;
    • although Ranger is still apprehending high-bond FTAs, more attention is spent on his other sources of income. His business, RangeMan is mentioned and so are a number of his employees: Lester Santos, Bobby Brown, Bones, and Tank.
  • Stephanie’s family:
    • Mom (“Ellen”) & Dad
      • although in previous books it is confirmed that they live on High Street, in this book they are cited as living on Roosevelt Street, “a couple blocks behind St. Francis”
    • Grandma Mazur
    • (Stephanie’s sister Valerie and her kids are briefly mentioned)
    • uncle Fred is mentioned, and we meet his wife Mabel (who is grandma Mazur’s first cousin), and his two sons Ronald and Walter
    • plus Rex the hamster.

Grandma Mazur came to live with my parents several years ago when my grandpa Mazur went to the big poker game in the sky.

  • Other recurring characters:
    • love interest: Joe Morelli
      • We get a glimpse into Joe’s family since at one point Stephanie accompanies him to a wedding for his cousin Julie. We meet his Grandma Bella again, his aunt Loretta, his uncle Dominic and aunt Rosa, and his cousin Louis.
    • love interest #2: Ranger
      • We also learn more about Ranger aside from his business dealings. We learn that he had been married and has a 9 year old daughter who lives with her mother in Florida. Stephanie says she estimates his age to be between 25-35 years old.
    • nemesis?: Terry Gilman (related to the mob, used to date Morelli, now works with him as part of the vice squad)
    • cops: Carl Costanza
    • best friend: Mary Lou Molnar (who goes to stakeout Morelli’s house with Stephanie)
    • neighbours mentioned: Mrs Bestler (3rd floor, 83 years old), Mrs Karwatt, Mr Wolesky, Mr Morganthal (92 years old, lives on the 3rd floor next to Mrs Delgato), Mr Sanders (1st floor), and Mrs Keene (1st floor).
    • not a returning character, but “Bunchy” (a fed posing as uncle Fred’s bookie) is a major character in this book and worth mentioning, particularly because he fulfills the role of yet another man who can someone get inside Stephanie’s apartment.

Team Morelli/Team Ranger:

The book starts by mentioning that Stephanie had entered into a relationship with Morelli “a couple months ago”, and that the relationship ended “a couple weeks ago”. It becomes clear throughout the story that the reason for the breakup is Morelli’s reluctance to commit, and Stephanie’s reluctance to continue a relationship with someone who won’t commit.

Whereas in the previous books, Ranger is not a love interest, that is not the case in this one. In book 4, Ranger gets a little bit flirty, but in this one he really ups the ante. He gives Stephanie “company cars”, which makes her think that he expects something from her in return. They even share a kiss towards the end of the book.

The book ends with Stephanie inviting one of the men over to her apartment, but it doesn’t reveal which of them it is.

Cars:

The book starts with Stephanie driving Big Blue, although the particular nickname for it doesn’t get mentioned. Once she starts doing jobs for Ranger, she gets a midnight black Porsche boxter from him as a “company car”. The Porsche gets blown up, which in turn causes an explosion of a neighbouring garbage truck, which topples over it and flattens it like a pancake. After this, newspapers nickname her the “Bombshell Bounty Hunter”.

The next car she gets from ranger is a black BMW, which almost immediately gets stolen while she’s trying to apprehend an FTA.

Other automobiles mentioned in the book include Morelli’s Ducati motorcycle and four-wheel drive Toyota pickup. In this book, Ranger’s (always black) cars include a black Mercedes SUV.

Final thoughts:

This is the book that establishes Stephanie’s future relationship with Ranger. He’s no longer a colleague in this one. He becomes a romantic interest for one, and he also becomes a boss. Stephanie’s career horizons really expand in this one since she’s no longer just looking for FTAs, she’s looking for missing persons (her uncle Fred), and does security jobs for RangeMan. Her ability to pick up extra work outside of Plum Bail Bonds probably ensures that in future books she’s no longer as strapped for cash as she was in earlier novels.

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