If you regularly dip into Stephanie Plum's world of laughable crime, then I would imagine Janet Evanovich's Takedown Twenty ticks all the boxes.
It's funny, crass and, it seems, all the regular players are alive and well in Trenton, New Jersey: Plum's sidekick, that "ho" Lulu with her too-tight skirts, the mysterious "being your hero is my fulltime job" Ranger and the hot cop boyfriend, Joe Morelli.
This was a first meeting with Plum. In fact, if I hadn't seen the character's name on the cover I wouldn't have known who she was until her Grandma Mazur yells "Stephanie got Bingo!" The scrappy bounty hunter had won "one of them slow cookers" while trying to find a killer.
In Evanovich's latest instalment, Plum is assigned to find Trenton's godfather - Uncle Sunny. He'd run over a guy and was up on a murder charge.
Plum's haphazard efforts to get Uncle Sunny - who also happens to be Morelli's real godfather and the grandson of Bella, a Sicilian with an evil eye - back in front of the court take her to the brink of death. Twice. Despite breaking her finger, her nose after firing a gun and nearly getting thrown off a bridge, Plum has also been asked by Ranger to help him find a killer who has been taking old ladies on dates, strangling them with venetian blind cords and then dumping their bodies.
It's also during this story line that Grandma Mazur - who "kind of likes being a slut" because "it beats the heck out of being an old lady" - provides the most laughs. But then there's the giraffe. Yes, a giraffe. Running the streets of Trenton. Every time that "mysterious" giraffe - dubbed Kevin by Lulu - was mentioned, my eyes glazed over. It was an absurd distraction from the plot.
Despite that mild absurdity, Takedown Twenty will make you laugh. But dipping your toes into Trenton once might be enough.
Sunday Star Times