Stephanie Plum and her cohorts are still as comical as ever. In their sixteenth caper, Vinnie is kidnapped by his bookie so Stephanie, Lulu and Connie set out to rescue him and raise the money to pay his gambling debts. As usual, there are botched captures, close calls, one-liners from Grandma Mazur, and the occasional teasing moment with Ranger and Morelli. Ms. Evanovich's books are always laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
The problem is that some of the "usual" is beginning to wear thin. I don't know how much time has elapsed in Stephanie's life since the beginning of the series - no more than five years, I'm guessing - but for the rest of us it has been sixteen years and it's time to move on. I don't want the series to end by any means, but the characters and situations are feeling stagnant.
Without giving away any plot points, this story was the perfect opportunity to make changes at the bond office and let Stephanie move into the next phase of her life, but by the last page it appeared that all was returned to normal. Maybe Ms. Evanovich has surprises in mind for #17, but they certainly weren't foreshadowed.
Then there's the Ranger/Morelli conundrum. Granted, the conflict was fascinating in the beginning; and Ms. Evanovich risks losing half of her loyal readers no matter who she has Stephanie choose but - if you'll pardon my crudity - it's time to piss or get off the pot. I have never hidden my opinion that I am firmly in Ranger's camp. While Joe is handsome and sexy and fun, he's also normal (or at least as close as anyone in a Plum novel gets). Ranger is mysterious and a little dangerous - he's fantasy to Joe's reality. Whichever man Stephanie is going to choose, just do it - the story could evolve well either way. By hanging on the fence, the relationship parts of the books have gone from sexual tension and romance to blah. She can't decide who she wants, so she picks neither. It's getting frustrating and maybe a touch boring.
I have loved these characters for so long that I will still anticipate the release of the next book in the series and hope against hope that new things are to come, but for now I'd have to say that Sizzling Sixteen is a fizzle.