Within the first ten pages of Ten Big Ones, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum once again loses her latest vehicle, this time to a Molotov cocktail. More importantly, she sees the face of the man behind the Red Devil mask whoís going around robbing store after store, even as he escapes right in front of her eyes after robbing yet another store. In her usual "act first think later" fashion, Plum begins investigating the red devil, not realizing he belongs to a gang, let alone that Trenton has gangs - in heaps! Before she knows it, a gang starts to terrorize her, and the word on the street is that a professional killer, the Junkman, has put her on his to-die list.
Despite being terrified and jittery as jelly inside, Plum puts on a brave front and, along with big, buxom, black sidekick, the former Ďho Lula, accompanied sometimes by her feisty Grandma Mazur, goes about her regular bounty hunting duties dealing with a Frito-Lays stealer, horny dogs, and various other bail-jumping riff raff. With Ranger out of town, Morelli going all macho and dictatorial on her, and her family in absolute chaos due to her sisterís upcoming nuptials, Stephanie keeps chomping away to ease the stress in her life. Her love life dilemma continues as ever with her loving Morelli and lusting after Ranger, only this time, she gets one step further on the road to knowing the elusive, dark and sexy Ranger.
Janet Evanovich has certainly found her niche writing the Stephanie Plum books, and readers looking for a laugh-out-loud fun and entertaining read donít have to look much beyond this bounty-hunterís hilarious antics in the burg of Trenton. This story, however, has a slightly edgier feel to it as Evanovich introduces readers and Plum to the fact that not even the working-class suburb of Trenton is immune from progress in the form of gangs and their widespread organized tentacles of crime. Plum remains in top-notch bumbling form as she, Lula, Grandma Mazur and a transvestite named Sally go about cleaning Trenton of its bail-jumpers in a manner thatíll keep readers in side-splitting laughter. Evanovich cleverly plots the story so as to keep the undercurrent of suspense and terror going through the length of the novel most effectively. Romantic tension and passion, while present, arenít as sizzling or full force as has generally been the case. After ten books, Evanovich would be well-advised to shake up Plumís life a little, as itís obviously stuck in limbo right now. But this doesnít detract readers both new and old from enjoying this book, although first-timers are advised to read the series in order to fully relish it.
Overall, Ten Big Ones is a wild, wacky and must-read combination of a lot of eating, a lot of bumbling, and a lot of laughing Ė in short, escapism of the first order.