Seven Up

Semi-retired mob guy, Eddie DeChooch, is caught trafficking contraband cigarettes through Trenton, New Jersey. When DeChooch fails to show for a court appearance, bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum is assigned the task of finding DeChooch and dragging his decrepit ass back to jail. Not such an easy job, it turns out, since DeChooch has learned a lot of tricks over the years and isn't afraid to use his gun. He's already shot Loretta Ricci and left her for worm food in his shed. He wouldn't mind shooting Stephanie next.

Especially since Steph has discovered that likeable losers (and former high school classmates) Mooner and Dougie have inadvertently become involved with DeChooch. They've gotten sucked into an operation which is much more than simple cigarette smuggling and holds risks far greater than anyone could have imagined.

When Dougie disappears, Steph goes into search mode. When Mooner disappears, she calls in the heavy artillery and asks master bounty hunter Ranger for help. His price for the job? One night with Stephanie, dusk to dawn. Not information she'd want to share with her some-time live in roommate, vice cop Joe Morelli.

A typical dilemma in the world of Plum.

And on the homefront, Stephanie's "perfect" sister Valerie has decided to move back to Trenton, bringing her two kids from hell. Grandma Mazur is asking questions about being a lesbian, and Bob, the bulimic dog, is eating everything in sight—including the furniture.

Mud wrestling, motorcycles, fast cars, fast food, and fast men. It's SEVEN UP. Absolutely Janet Evanovich at her very best.

FOR THE BETTER part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple—I wanted to be an intergalactic princess. I didn't care much about ruling hordes of space people. Mostly I wanted to wear the cape and the sexy boots and carry a cool weapon.

As it happens, the princess thing didn't work out for me, so I went to college and when I graduated I went to work as a lingerie buyer for a chain store. Then that didn't work out, so I blackmailed my bail bondsman cousin into giving me a job as a bounty hunter. Funny how fate steps in. I never did get the cape or the sexy boots, but I do finally have a sort of cool weapon. Well okay, it's a little .38 and I keep it in my cookie jar, but it's still a weapon, right:?

Back in the days when I was auditioning for princess I had the occasional run-in with the bad kid in the neighborhood. He was two years older than me. His name was Joe Morelli. And he was trouble.

I'm still having those run-ins with Morelli. And he's still trouble . . . but now he's the kind of trouble a woman likes.

He's a cop and his gun is bigger than mine and he doesn't keep it in a cookie jar.

He proposed to me a couple weeks ago during a libido attack. He unsnapped my jeans, hooked a finger into the waistband, and pulled me to him. "About that proposal, Cupcake . . ." he said.

"Which proposal are we talking about?"

"The marriage proposal."

"Are you serious?"

"I'm a desperate man."

That was obvious.

Truth is, I was desperate, too. I was starting to have romantic thoughts about my electric toothbrush. Problem was, I just didn't know if I was ready for marriage. Marriage is scary stuff. You have to share a bathroom. What's with that? And what about fantasies? Suppose the intergalactic princess resurfaces and I need to set off on a mission?

Morelli shook his head. "You're thinking again."

"There's a lot to consider."

"Let me hit the high points for you . . . wedding cake,