Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared.
Evelyn’s estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. During the divorce proceedings, he and Evelyn signed a child custody bond, and Steven is demanding the money guaranteed by the bond to find Annie. The money was secured by a mortgage on Evelyn’s grandmother’s house, and the True Blue Bonds Bail Agency wants to take possession of the house.
Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn’s grandmother lives next door to Stephanie’s parents, and Stephanie’s mother and grandmother are not about to see their neighbor lose her house because of abduction.
Even though Stephanie’s plate is full with miscreants who missed their court dates, including old nemesis and violent drunk Andy Bender and an elusive little old lady accused of grand theft auto, she can’t disappoint Grandma Mazur! So she follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn– and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Steven is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiance Joe Morelli and Stephanie’s mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it’s Abruzzi’s eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie the most. Stephanie needs Ranger’s savvy and expertise, and she’s willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean becoming too involved with Ranger.
Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who’s not going to miss riding with Ranger), and Evelyn’s lawyer/laundromat manager set out to find Annie. The search turns out to be a race among Stephanie’s posse, the True Blue Bonds’ agent, a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows, and the Abruzzi crew. Not to mention the fact that there’s a killer rabbit on the loose!
Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life.
Okay, this was a good one. I was starting to get a little bored of the series but Hard Eight was a nice change of pace. With new developments and a change in the usual formula, this was a quick, exciting read.
Stephanie is so lucky that she always seems to know the right people for the situations she gets herself into. Car gets blown up? Ranger will show up with a new one. Mum gets into a hit and run with a human-sized rabbit? Morelli can take care of it. Lost her handcuffs? Here’s Lula with a pair. And then Kloughn. And Vinnie. And Morelli again. People keep breaking into her place and leaving presents? Ranger knows a guy who can set her up with a security system.
The Morelli-Ranger conflict is still growing and is getting even more intense. I like that they respect each other even though they’re both competing for the same woman. Stephanie needs help both inside and outside of the law, thanks to both her job and her luck, so it’s good Ranger and Morelli are around to keep her alive. And we all know (or assume) Stephanie will end up with Morelli in the end, so why not enjoy the Ranger side action while he’s around?
This series seems to be back on the upswing; I’m ready for #9.