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Hard Eight: A Stephanie Plum Novel [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Janet Evanovich , Lorelei King
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Amazon

In Hard Eight, Stephanie Plum picks up a case a little nastier than anything the wisecracking bounty hunter's seen before. Evelyn Soder and her young daughter have gone on the run, leaving an angry ex-husband who's planning to collect on a child custody bond that will leave Evelyn's grandmother homeless. Stephanie's first clue that there's more to it than that comes in the form of Eddie Abruzzi, a shady local businessman who warns her to butt out of the case. Stephanie doesn't scare easily, but when Abruzzi's henchmen leave a bag of snakes on her doorknob and tarantulas in her car, she has no choice but to call Ranger, the hunky man of mystery whom she already owes too many favors. Steph knows that Ranger will soon be calling in his marker, but with her ex- fiancé Joe Morelli out of the picture, that should be OK--shouldn't it? In the meantime, she's got other fugitives to catch, aided by the usual band of misfits, plus a bumbling correspondence-school lawyer who's developed the hots for Stephanie's sister, Valerie. And Steph's in for a surprise from her mother, who proves she's not above wielding a dangerous weapon to save her daughter's life.

Author Janet Evanovich has made a bold move in using a soupçon of child jeopardy to pull this series out of the comfortable but formulaic pattern it was threatening to fall into. It's still funny, and yes, some cars are destroyed, but now there's a real edge of darkness under the humor. Fans needn't fear, though: Jersey girl Stephanie is still full of sass and Tastykakes. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The menace is more personal for Trenton's favorite bounty hunter and the energy more manic in this latest outing than in last year's Seven Up. As a favor to her mother's next-door neighbor, Mabel Markowitz, Stephanie agrees to check up on the lady's granddaughter, Evelyn Soder, who has suddenly taken off with her little girl, Annie, leaving behind a child custody bond against Mabel's house. The son-in-law is a bad guy who lost his bar to Eddie Abruzzi, a very nasty character who owns evelyn's building. Soon someone in a bunny suit is trailing Stephanie, her car is blown up, her apartment infiltrated and a dead body appears on her couch. She calls in her associate, Ranger, the gorgeous and mysterious Cuban bond agent, while her sometime boyfriend, Morelli the cop, also gets on the case - a real doozy for which she's not getting paid. On the home front, ever-raunchy Grandma Mazur is eager to assist. Sister Valerie and kids have moved back in as well, so there's nowhere but the couch for Stephanie and one bathroom for all. Valerie is inexplicably attracted to Evelyn's goofy lawyer, who's been tagging along with Stephanie and the ever-outrageous file clerk and ex-hooker Lula, further complicating this twisted case. Life in the Burg takes on a sinister turn with serious results. Evanovich does it again, delivering an even more suspenseful and more outrageous turn with the unstoppable Stephanie, heroine of all those who have to live on peanut butter until the next check comes through. Waiting for nine will be tough.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Evanovich has certainly come a long way since One for the Money; her latest Stephanie Plum mystery merits a one-day national laydown on June 18. Here, Plum looks for a missing child while trying to keep her love life from getting out of hand.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

(*Starred Review*) Stephanie Plum lives not far from herparents in a Trenton, New Jersey, neighborhood called the Burg. Thingshaven't changed much there since the '50s, despite cell phones andcomputers and the fact that Stephanie works as a bountyhunter. Stephanie still eats her mom's macaroni and cheese forcomfort, and Mom's is where her sister Valerie went when hermarriage blew up. It's a little darker for our heroine now. She's kindof broken up with Morelli, the gorgeous cop; she's still wary ofRanger, her guide in bounty hunting, who is composed of equal partsmagic and darkness; and an eerie, scary bad guy named Abruzzi isputting snakes in her apartment and spiders in her car, when hisminions aren't blowing it up. Steph is trying to find the missingdaughter and granddaughter of her mom's next-door neighbor, andAbruzzi doesn't like that. The things Evanovich does so well--familyangst, sweet eroticism, stealth shopping, that stunning mix of terrorand hilarity--are done better than ever here. This one not only allowsSteph some inchoate but graceful complexity but also gives splendidcameos to both her mom and Valerie (the moving automobile as weaponhas rarely been employed more outrageously--twice). And Grandma Mazurin the doughnut shop parking lot--well, you won't believeit. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Keeps up Evanovich's standards for over-the-top situations" -Chicago Tribune

"[A] must read...readers will want to finish this delightful work in one sitting."--Midwest Book Review

"Offers the best action yet."-Newark Star-Ledger

"The girl mercenary is as fresh as ever." -People

"Hard Eight is most emphatically not Raymond Chandler but, like his work, a piece of finely crafted prose." -San Francisco Chronicle

"Plum is one of fiction's most irresistible heroines."-Seattle Post Intelligencer

"Evanovich has certainly come a long way since One for the Money; her latest Stephanie Plum mystery merits a one-day national laydown on June 18."--Library Journal

"Well plotted and cleverly resolved...her wickedly funny characterizations and the intriguing love triangle are what keep her readers coming back for more."-Bookpage

"As close to summer escapism as you can get. Evanovich hits a high note with her newest...a great addition to a well-stocked beach bag."-Houston Chronicle

"A perfect summer vacation book...promises fun, laughter, and unforgettable characters...Evanovich delivers."-Tennessean (Nashville, TN)

"Thrills mixed with lust, seasoned with humor: a delightful escape."-News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

"Evanovich produces more than "beach reading". She writes rollicking, raunchy, hysterical fiction that is so real, you will laugh out loud and want to visit the Burg."-Rockwall County News

"Just when you think the adventures of Plum and company can't get any funnier or more convoluted, Janet Evanovich proves you wrong-nobody does it better!" -Romantic Times

From the Inside Flap

Hard Eight
“Keeps up Evanovich’s standards for over-the-top situations” -Chicago Tribune

“[A] must read...readers will want to finish this delightful work in one sitting.”--Midwest Book Review

“Offers the best action yet.”-Newark Star-Ledger

“The girl mercenary is as fresh as ever.” -People

Hard Eight is most emphatically not Raymond Chandler but, like his work, a piece of finely crafted prose.” -San Francisco Chronicle

“Plum is one of fiction’s most irresistible heroines.”-Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Evanovich has certainly come a long way since One for the Money; her latest Stephanie Plum mystery merits a one-day national laydown on June 18.”--Library Journal

“Well plotted and cleverly resolved...her wickedly funny characterizations and the intriguing love triangle are what keep her readers coming back for more.”-Bookpage

“As close to summer escapism as you can get. Evanovich hits a high note with her newest...a great addition to a well-stocked beach bag.”-Houston Chronicle

“A perfect summer vacation book...promises fun, laughter, and unforgettable characters...Evanovich delivers.”-Tennessean (Nashville, TN)

“Thrills mixed with lust, seasoned with humor: a delightful escape.”-News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

“Evanovich produces more than “beach reading”. She writes rollicking, raunchy, hysterical fiction that is so real, you will laugh out loud and want to visit the Burg.”-Rockwall County News

“Just when you think the adventures of Plum and company can’t get any funnier or more convoluted, Janet Evanovich proves you wrong-nobody does it better!” -Romantic Times

Seven Up
“A madcap comic mystery-Jersey-girl style.”-The New York Times

“Expect a laugh per page...Bottom line: Plum Pick.”-People

“If you like your summer reads hot and sassy, try Seven Up.”-Boston Herald

“Evanovich is the crown princess of detective fiction...Seven Up is brassy, comical, and light-hearted.”-Bookpage

“[Seven Up is funny, sexy, scary.”-Booklist

“Edgy romance triangle, the loopy family relationships, or the bounty-hunting jobs that skate between absurdity and genuine tension.”-Denver Post

“An adventurous, amusing ride...billed as a crime novel, it has the requisite intrigue and chase scenes, but is also seasoned with humor.”-Oakland Press (Pontiac, MI)

“[A] fast, funny, and first-rate tale.”-Ft. Myers News Press

“Romantic and laugh-out-loud funny, this caper is the perfect summer antidote to serious reading.”-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The dialogue’s snappy...the pace is quick...Evanovich’s great gift is an ability to create situations zany enough to provoke bursts of laughter.”-Philadelphia Inquirer

“Marked by wise-cracking humor, eccentric characters, and a gritty urban New Jersey setting...Evanovich’s ‘Stephanie Plum’ series attracts an ever-increasing number of fans with each book.”-Library Journal

“Loads of fun...with laughs on every page.”-USA Today

“Evanovich continues...her successful formula...[she] provides a beginning that illustrates all that is right with this series and an ending that ties the story together, gives us a dose of reality, and leaves us with a cliffhanger.”-Chicago Tribune

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Hard Up
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. Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn's grandmother lives next door to Stephanie's parents, so Stephanie follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn-and finds a lot more than she bargained for.

Hard Risk
Steven Soder is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiancé Joe Morelli and Stephanie's mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it's Abruzzi's eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie most. Stephanie needs Ranger's savvy and expertise, and she's willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean getting 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. Plus, there's a killer rabbit on the loose!

Hard Eight
Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life! Hard Eight. The world of Stephanie Plum has never been wilder.

"Evanovich does it again, delivering an even more suspenseful and more outrageous turn with the unstoppable Stephanie."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The things Evanovich does so well-family angst, sweet eroticism, stealth shopping, that stunning mix of terror and hilarity-are done better than ever here."
-Booklist (starred review)
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Janet Evanovich is the #1 bestselling author of Four to Score, High Five, Hot Six and Seven Up. She lives in New Hampshire.

LORELEI KING has recorded over 200 audiobooks, including several titles from Janet Evanovich’s bestselling Stephanie Plum series and Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series.  Her many awards include the 2008 Audie Award for Female Solo Narration for Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, the Radio Times performer of the Year for The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and AudioFile Earphones Awards for Eleven on Top and Twelve Sharp, both by Janet Evanovich.  AudioFile also deemed her one of the "Best Voices of 2008."

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time rolling on the ground with men who think a stiffy represents personal growth. The rolling around has nothing to do with my sex life. The rolling around is what happens when a bust goes crapolla and there's a last ditch effort to hog tie a big, dumb bad guy possessing a congenitally defective frontal lobe.

My name is Stephanie Plum, and I'm in the fugitive apprehension business ...bond enforcement, to be exact, working for my cousin Vincent Plum. It wouldn't be such a bad job except the direct result of bond enforcement is usually incarceration ?and fugitives tend to not like this. Go figure. To encourage fugitive cooperation on the way back to the pokey I usually persuade the guys I capture to wear handcuffs and leg shackles. This works pretty good most of the time. And if done right, cuts back on the rolling around on the ground stuff.

Unfortunately, today wasn't most of the time. Martin Paulson, weighing in at 350 pounds and standing 5'8" tall, was arrested for credit card fraud and for being a genuinely obnoxious person. He failed to show for his court appearance last week, and this put Martin on my Most Wanted List. Since Martin is not too bright, he hadn't been too hard to find. Martin had, in fact, been at home engaged in what he does best ...stealing merchandise off the internet. I'd managed to get Martin into cuffs and leg shackles and into my car. I'd even managed to drive Martin to the police station on North Clinton Avenue. Unfortunately, when I attempted to get Martin out of my car he'd tipped over and was now rollingaround on his belly, trussed up like a Christmas goose, unable to right himself.

We were in the parking lot adjacent to the municipal building. The back door leading to the docket lieutenant was less than fifty feet away. I could call for help, but I'd be the brunt of cop humor for days. I could unlock the cuffs or ankle shackles, but I didn't trust Paulson. He was royally pissed-off, red-faced and swearing, making obscene threats and horrifying animal sounds.

I was standing there, watching Paulson struggle, wondering what the hell I was going to do, because anything short of a fork-lift wasn't going to get Paulson up off the pavement. And just then, Joe Juniak pulled into the lot. Juniak is a former police chief and is now mayor of Trenton. He's a couple years older than me and about a foot taller. Juniak's second cousin, Ziggy, is married to my cousin-in-law Gloria Jean. So we're sort of family ...in a remote way.

The driver side window slid down, and Juniak grinned at me, cutting his eyes to Paulson. "Is he yours?"

"Yep."

"He's illegally parked. His ass is over the white line."

I toed Paulson, causing him to start rocking again. "He's stuck."

Juniak got out of his car and hauled Paulson up by his armpits. "You don't mind if I embellish this story when I spread it all over town, do you?"

"I do mind! Remember, I voted for you," I said. "And we're almost related."

"Not gonna help you, cutie. Cops live for stuff like this."

"You're not a cop anymore."

"Once a cop, always a cop."

Paulson and I watched Juniak get back into his car and drive away.

"I can't walk in these things," Paulson said, looking down at the shackles. "I'm gonna fall over again. I haven't got a good sense of balance."

"Have you ever heard the bounty hunter slogan bring ëem back --dead or alive?"

"Sure."

"Don't tempt me."

Actually, bringing someone back dead is a big no-no, but this seemed like a good time to make an empty threat. It was late afternoon. It was spring. And I wanted to get on with my life. Spending another hour coaxing Paulson to walk across the parking lot wasn't high on my list of favored things to do.

I wanted to be on a beach somewhere with the sun blistering my skin until I looked like a fried pork rind. Okay, truth is at this time of year that might have to be Cancun, and Cancun didn't figure into my budget. Still the point was, I didn't want to be here in this stupid parking lot with Paulson.

"You probably don't even have a gun," Paulson said.

"Hey give me a break. I haven't got all day for this. I have other things to do."

"Like what?"
p0
"None of your business."

"Hah! You haven't got anything better to do."

I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and black Caterpillar boots, and I had a real urge to kick him in the back of his leg with my size seven Cat.


"Tell me," he said.

"I promised my parents I'd be home for dinner at six."

Paulson burst out laughing. "That's pathetic. That's fucking pathetic." The laughter turned into a coughing fit, Paulson leaned forward, wobbled side to side and fell over. I reached for him, but it was too late. He was back on his belly, doing his beached whale imitation.

* * *

My parents live in a narrow duplex in a chunk of Trenton called the Burg. If the Burg was a food, it would be pasta --penne rigate, ziti, fettuccine, spaghetti, and elbow macaroni, swimming in marinara, cheese sauce or mayo. Good, dependable, all-occasion food that puts a smile on your face and fat on your butt. The Burg is a solid neighborhood where people buy houses and live in them until death kicks them out. Backyards are used to run a clothesline, store the garbage can and give the dog a place to poop. No fancy backyard decks and gazebos for Burgers. Burgers sit on their small front porches and cement stoops. The better to see the world go by.

I rolled in just as my mother was pulling the roast chicken out of the oven. My father was already in his seat at the head of the table. He stared straight ahead, eyes glazed, thoughts in limbo, knife and fork in hand. My sister Valerie, who had recently moved back home after leaving her husband, was at work whipping potatoes in the kitchen. When we were kids Valerie was the perfect daughter. And I was the daughter who stepped in dog poo, sat on gum, and constantly fell off the garage roof in an attempt to fly. As a last ditch effort to preserve her marriage, Valerie had traded in her Italian-Hungarian genes and turned herself into Meg Ryan. The marriage failed, but the blond Meg shag persists.
Valerie's kids were at the table with my dad. The nine year old, Angie, was sitting primly with her hands folded, resigned to enduring the meal, an almost perfect clone of Valerie at that age. The seven year old, Mary Alice, the kid from hell, had two sticks poked into her brown hair.

"What's with the sticks?" I asked.

"They not sticks. They're antlers. I'm a reindeer."

i0This was a surprise because usually she's a horse.

"How was your day?" Grandma asked me, setting a bowl of green beans on the table. "Did you shoot anybody? Did you capture any bad guys?"
Grandma Mazur moved in with my parents shortly after my Grandpa Mazur took his fat clogged arteries to the all-you-can-eat buffet in the sky. Grandma's in her mid-seventies and doesn't look a day over ninety. Her body is aging, but her mind seems to be going in the opposite direction. She was wearing white tennis shoes and a lavender polyester warm-up suit. Her steel gray hair was cut short and permed to within an inch of its life. Her nails were painted lavender to match the suit.

"I didn't shoot anybody today," I said, "but I brought in a guy wanted for credit card fraud."

There was a knock at the front door, and Mabel Markowitz stuck her head in and called, "Yoohoo".

My parents live in a two family duplex. They own the south half, and Mabel Markowitz owns the north half, the house divided by a common wall and years of disagreement over house paint. Out of necessity, Mabel's made thrift a religious experience, getting by on social security and government surplus peanut butter. Her husband, Izzy, was a good man but drank himself into an early grave. Mabel's only daughter died of uterine cancer a year ago. The son-in-law died a month later in a car crash.

All forward progress stopped at the table, and everyone looked to the front door, because in all the years Mabel had lived next door, she'd never once yoohooed while we were eating.

"I hate to disturb your meal," Mabel said. "I just wanted to ask Stephanie if she'd have a minute to stop over, later. I have a question about this bond business. It's for a friend."

"Sure," I said. "I'll be over after dinner." I imagined it would be a short conversation since everything I knew about bond could be said in two sentences.

Mabel left and Grandma leaned forward, elbows on the table. "I bet that's a lot of hooey about wanting advice for a friend. I bet Mabel's been busted."

Everyone simultaneously rolled their eyes at Grandma.

"Okay then," she said. "Maybe she wants a job. Maybe she wants to be a bounty hunter. You know how she's always squeaking by."

My father shoveled food into his mouth, keeping his head down. He reached for the potatoes and spooned seconds onto his plate. "Christ," he mumbled.
0
"If there's anyone in that family who would need a bail bond, it would be Mabel's ex-grandson-in-law," my mother said. "He's mixed up with some bad people these days. Evelyn was smart to divorce him."

"Yeah, and that divorce was real nasty," Grandma said to me. "Almost as nasty as yours."

"I set a high standard."

"You were a pip," Grandma said.

My mother did another eye roll. "It was a disgrace."

* * *

Mabel Markowitz lives in a museum. She married in 1943 and still has her first table lamp, her first pot, her first chrome and Formica kitchen table. Her living room was newly wallpapered in 1957. The flowers have faded but the paste has held. The carpet is dark oriental. The upholstered pieces sag slightly in the middle, imprinted with asses that have since moved on ...either to God or Hamilton Township...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

The Stephanie Plum novels feel as if the world of Patricia Cornwell has been invaded by Bridget Jones, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment. Here bail bondswoman (read bounty hunter) Stephanie Plum is trying in her usual inept way to track down the normal (read dislikable going on poisonous) bail jumpers with her irresistible sidekick, Lula, a large black former hooker. When Plum undertakes, as a favor, to try to find a missing child, she gets crosswise with an ugly character called Eddie Abruzzi. Lorelei King excels at a cross- section of working-class New Jersey eccentrics as broad as the trunk of a redwood. Thoroughly entertaining. B.G. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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