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Twisted Twenty-Six: A Stephanie Plum Novel


Twisted Twenty-Six: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Stephanie Plum, the gutsy Jersey Girl bounty hunter, muses as she watches her hamster, Rex, run on his cage wheel. She has spent most of her adult life chasing down and cuffing sleazeball subpoena dodgers, getting shot at and shot in the process. She cohabits irregularly with hottie cop Joe Morelli as his girlfriend and dog walker, but retains her own apartment. Ranger, her former lover and a present danger to her fidelity, still has her back when she gets into trouble, but she knows it's going nowhere. Her mom can be seen topping off any glass with liquid in it from a bottle secreted in the kitchen cupboard as her dad ignores the chaos. Lula, the potty-mouthed ex-hooker turned bounty hunter, still scarfs down the best donuts before Stephanie gets to the office.

Then gun-toting Grandma Mazur changes it up by marrying Jimmy Rosolli in the casino at Atlantis. Since Jimmy loves to play the slots, the newlyweds decide to try their luck before  embarking on a honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas. Forty five minutes after they say “I do,” Jimmy hits the jackpot and drops dead of a heart attack, the tickets to the cruise still in his pocket.

"TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is just that --- a major twist in the narrative. And spoiler alert: there definitely will be a TWENTY-SEVEN."

Grandma didn’t know much about Jimmy’s background, but he seemed well off, healthy for his age and was very nice to her. In her mid-70s, she couldn’t be too picky. He owned the Mole Hole, a popular men’s club with a questionable clientele. A group of older Jersey goodfellas had a private room in the back with designated La-Z-Boy lounge chairs. He occupied the coveted corner lounger, while the four remaining La-Z-Boys sat according to status. As the owner, Jimmy was the “Keeper of the Keys.”

The will that Jimmy drew up just before the wedding left everything to his wife, including the Keys. His three elderly sisters and two ex-wives are livid that Grandma will get everything, and constantly threaten her with the Italian evil eye and possible poisoned cookies.

The La-Z-Boys are outraged. They don’t know what the “Keys” open, and they don’t believe Grandma when she vows she has no idea what they are talking about. Convinced that they are worth a fortune and that Jimmy must have given them to Grandma, or at least told her where they are, a rumor circulates that a contract is out on her. It gets real when a Molotov cocktail smashes through the Plums’ living room window. Stephanie finds a new purpose in life when Grandma’s life is threatened and Ranger reenters the scene to protect both Grandma and Stephanie.

TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is just that --- a major twist in the narrative. And spoiler alert: there definitely will be a TWENTY-SEVEN.

I was pleased to review the first few Stephanie Plum novels, beginning with ONE FOR THE MONEY in 1994. I interviewed Janet Evanovich three years later at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, where she was signing copies of the newly released THREE TO GET DEADLY. This location is a real coup for any mystery writer, but her publicist clearly did not know that July was not prime time for appearances in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was late afternoon and 114 degrees, and even well-known authors couldn’t anticipate a good turnout. Evanovich was on the rise after ONE FOR THE MONEY made a big splash, and rumors flew that movie rights were pending.

I arrived a half hour early with a pen (iPhones had not been invented yet), and we made do with a tape recorder at hand. Her limousine driver was sitting at the curb, AC on full blast, and she wanted to invite him into the store. Leaving a limo running curbside even in ritzy Scottsdale was probably not a good idea, so he declined and water was dispatched.

Evanovich told me her history of rejected manuscripts, finally landing a contract for a romance novel, and then developing the Stephanie Plum character. When ONE FOR THE MONEY appeared at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, it was beyond her greatest dreams. She paid off their mortgage, settled student loans (she was the first in her family to attend college), and by book three she was off and running. Only a handful of people showed up --- Arizonans know better than to come out before dark in July --- so I enjoyed a great conversation with a charming young woman with dreams yet to be fulfilled. I doubt at the time she could have imagined the ballyhoo appearances in major cities with motorcycle parades and full entourage.

Many books later, I almost bought tickets for an event in a Scottsdale auditorium that turned out to be standing room only. I decided that I’d had my moment and watched the coverage on television.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 13, 2019

Twisted Twenty-Six: A Stephanie Plum Novel
by Janet Evanovich

  • Publication Date: November 12, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399180192
  • ISBN-13: 9780399180194