Everyone loves Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mysteries, but for one like me who's lived in New Joisey, both north and south, and actually WORKED in Trenton (no kidding, there are a few jobs), these books have me collapsing in hysterical laughter. New Jersey really is like this, with all the endearing and irritating ethnic barbie-babbitry and hypocrisy Evanovich so beautifully evokes. (I note she lives out of state these days. So do I.)
If I had to rate the series, I'd choose this one as best or perhaps second-best, so far, although all are superb. Lula and Grandma Mazur, two of Evanovich's best characters, really come alive in this one. Stephanie is still Everywoman in La-La Land while Joe sizzles, Ranger looms dangerously, Stephanie's father and mother remain completely and hilariously in character, Spiro is nicely smarmy, and Mancuso is a REALLY BAD GUY. Highly recommended!
Stephanie reminds me of another bewildered and exploited tracer of lost persons who also possesses a wisecracking mouth, a convoluted love life, and an eccentric and hilarious family, who makes dead-on observations and is so much "at home" in the 'hood that the narrative gives us a complete sense of belonging -- namely, Marcus Didius Falco in Lindsey Davis's fabulous Roman series. And folks, that's high praise.