After being so disappointed with the first book of the Stephanie Plum series, I thought it unlikely that I'd try a second book. I'm glad I did. The first book was just irritating, but Ms. Plum is redeemed by the second.
The plot moooooves. It's funny in the right places. The jeopardy is always present, always real. We know, of course, that somehow Plum will get Mancuso, bad as he is, but no matter. That is a flaw of all series crime novels: the reader knows the hero will prevail. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a next book.
But the plot isn't what fascinated me here. It was the atmosphere. It was the cast of characters. Trenton, NJ is not exactly a tourist Mecca, and the author doesn't try to burnish the city's reputation. It's cold. It's dirty. It's dangerous. A good portion of the book takes place in sundry funeral parlors, not exactly places we like to visit in the best of cities. But the author makes it real--I almost wrote "come alive," but that would be tacky. As for characters, they are all good, from Plum to her grandmother. While the reader probably wouldn't care to socialize with most of those who populate this tale, it is undeniable that they are realistic. Characters and atmosphere: they are what make or break any work of fiction, and they certainly make this an enjoyable turn.
I look forward to catching up with book three, if only to follow the further saga of Plum's Grandma.