The sequencing of the Stephanie Plum series, by Janet Evanovich, is self-evident from its titles but not mandatory. The first Plum novel, One for the Money, was nominated for five respected awards. It won two the Dilys and the Creasey. Evanovich's fifth offering, High Five, once again set deep in the heart of Trenton, aligns skip-tracing Plum with crazed associates and pits her against a menagerie of over-the-top antagonists.
Problem One: Uncle Fred, who's been feuding with the garbage collectors, is missing. A packet of gruesome photos is found in his desk. Problem Two: someone from the garbage collection company is murdered. Is Fred the victim or the culprit?
Nothing for Stephanie is storybook perfect. Her job and finances frustrate her. Her family offers off-kilter comfort; her love life consists of a rocky affair with city detective Joe Morelli and a complicating attraction to her mentor, an ex-Navy Seal and domestic mercenary. Plum also must confront two stalkers the hapless Bunchy, who claims Fred owes him a gambling debt, and the menacing Ramirez, a fresh-from-prison psychopath with a thing for Stephanie.
Evanovich wields wonderful humor while weaving a tight story and sustaining suspense.
Tom Corcoran is the Florida-based author of The Mango Opera.