Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum Series #18)

Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum Series #18)

by Janet Evanovich

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Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead—and a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph he was supposed to be carrying.
Only one person has seen the missing photo: Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target. An FBI sketch artist helps Stephanie re-create the person in the photo, but Stephanie’s descriptive skills are lacking. Until she can improve them, she’ll need to watch her back.
Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. Vinnie’s temporary HQ has gone up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls for their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?
Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345527738
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Series: Stephanie Plum Series , #18
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 44,292
Product dimensions: 4.34(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.


Hanover, New Hampshire

Date of Birth:

April 22, 1943

Place of Birth:

South River, New Jersey


B.A., Douglass College, 1965

Read an Excerpt


New Jersey was 40,000 feet below me, obscured by cloud cover. Heaven was above me, beyond the thin skin of the plane. And hell was sitting four rows back. Okay, maybe hell was too strong. Maybe it was just purgatory.

My name is Stephanie Plum, and I work as a bail bonds enforcer for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds in Trenton, New Jersey. I’d recently inherited airline vouchers from a dead guy and used them to take a once in a lifetime Hawaiian vacation. Unfortunately the vacation didn’t go as planned, and I’d been forced to leave Hawaii ahead of schedule, like a thief sneaking off in the dead of night. I’d abandoned two angry men in Honolulu, called my friend Lula, and asked her to pick me up at Newark Airport.

As if my life wasn’t enough in the toilet, I was now on the plane home, seated four rows ahead of a guy who looked like Sasquatch and was snoring like a bear in a cave. Good thing I wasn’t sitting next to him because I surely would have strangled him in his sleep by now. I was wearing airline-­distributed earphones pumped up to maximum volume, but they weren’t helping. The snoring had started somewhere over Denver and got really ugly over Kansas City. After several loud passenger comments suggesting someone take the initiative and smother the guy, flight attendants confiscated all the pillows and began passing out free alcoholic beverages. Three-­quarters of the plane was now desperately drunk, and the remaining quarter was either under age or alternatively medicated. Two of the underage were screaming crying, and I was pretty sure the kid behind me had pooped in his pants.

I was among the drunk. I was wondering how I was going to walk off the plane and navigate the terminal with any sort of dignity, and I was hoping my ride was waiting for me.

Sasquatch gave an extra loud “snork” and I ground my teeth together. Just land this friggin’ plane, I thought. Land it in a cornfield, on a highway, in the ocean. Just get me out of here!


Lula pulled into my apartment building parking lot, and I thanked her for picking me up at the airport and taking me home.

“No problemo,” she said, dropping me at the back door to the lobby. “There wasn’t nothing on television, and I’m between honeys, so it wasn’t like I was leaving anything good behind.”

I waved her off, and trudged into my apartment building. I took the elevator to the second floor, dragged my luggage down the hall and into my apartment, and shuffled into my bedroom.

It was after midnight, and I was exhausted. My vacation in Hawaii had been unique, and the flight home had been hellish. Turbulance over the Pacific, a layover in L.A., and the snoring. I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself. I was back to work tomorrow, but for now I had to make a choice. I was completely out of clean clothes. That meant I could be a slut and sleep naked, or I could be a slob and sleep in what I was wearing.

Truth is, I’m not entirely comfortable sleeping naked. I do it from time to time, but I worry that God might be watching or that my mother might find out, and I’m pretty sure they both think nice girls should wear pajamas to bed.

In this case, being a slob required less effort and that’s where I chose to go.

Unfortunately I was in the same wardrobe predicament when I dragged myself out of bed the next morning, so I emptied my suitcase into my laundry basket, grabbed the messenger bag that serves as a purse, and headed for my parents’ house. I could use my mom’s washer and dryer, and I thought I had some emergency clothes left in their spare bedroom. Plus they’d been babysitting my hamster Rex while I was away, and I wanted to retrieve him.

I live in a one bedroom, one bath apartment on the second floor of an aging three-­story brick-­faced apartment building located on the edge of Trenton. On a good traffic day, at four in the morning, it’s a ten-­minute drive to my parent’s house or the bonds office. All other times it’s a crapshoot.

Grandma Mazur was at the front door when I pulled to the curb and parked. She’s lived with my parents since Grandpa Mazur took the big escalator to the heavenly food court in the sky. Sometimes I think my father wouldn’t mind seeing Grandma step onto that very same escalator, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. Her steel grey hair was cut short and tightly curled on her head. Her nails matched her bright red lipstick. Her lavender and white running suit hung slack on her bony shoulders.

“What a good surprise,” Grandma said, opening the door to me. “Welcome home. We’re dying to hear all about the vacation with the hottie.”

My parents’ home is a modest duplex, sharing a common wall with its mirror image. Mrs. Ciak lives in the other half. Her husband has passed on, and she spends her days baking coffee cake and watching television. The outside of her half is painted pale green, and the exterior of my parents’ house is mustard yellow and brown. It’s not an attractive combination, but it feels comfortable to me since it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Each half of the house has a postage stamp front yard, a small covered front porch, a back stoop leading to a long narrow back yard, and a detached single car garage.

I lugged the laundry basket through the living room, and the dining room, to the kitchen where my mother was chopping vegetables.

“Soup?” I asked her.

“Minestrone. Are you coming for dinner?”

“Can’t. Got plans.”

My mother glanced at the laundry basket. “I just put a load of sheets into the washer. If you leave that here I’ll do it later for you. How was Hawaii? We didn’t expect you home until tomorrow.”

“Hawaii was good, but the plane ride was long. Fortunately I sat next to a guy who got off when we stopped in LA, so I had more room.”

“Yeah, but you were also next to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Mysterious,” Grandma said.

“Not exactly.”

This got both their attention.

“How so?” Grandma asked.

“It’s complicated. He didn’t fly back with me.”

Grandma stared at my left hand. “You got a tan, except on your ring finger. It looks like you was wearing a ring when you got a tan, but you’re not wearing it no more.”

I looked at my hand. Bummer. When I took the ring off, I hadn’t noticed a tan line.

“Now I know why you went to Hawaii,” Grandma said. “I bet you eloped! Of course being that you don’t got the ring on any more would put a damper on the celebration.”

I blew out a sigh and poured myself a cup of coffee. I took a sip, and my phone rang. I dug around in my bag, unable to find my phone in the jumble of stuff I’d crammed in for the plane trip. I dumped it all out onto the little kitchen table and pawed through it. Granola bars, hairbrush, lip balm, hair scrunchies, note pad, wallet, socks, two magazines, a large yellow envelope, floss, mini flashlight, travel pack of tissues, three pens, and my phone.

The caller was Connie Rosolli, the bail bonds office manager. “I hope you’re on your way to the office,” she said, “because we have a situation here.”

“What sort of situation?”

“A bad one.”

“How bad? Can it wait twenty minutes?”

“Twenty minutes sounds like a long time.”

I disconnected and stood. “Gotta go,” I said to my mother and grandmother.

“But you just got here,” Grandma said. “We didn’t get to hear about the eloping.”

“I didn’t elope.”

I returned everything to my messenger bag with the exception of the phone and the yellow envelope. I put the phone in an outside pocket, and I looked at the envelope. No writing on it. Sealed. I had no clue how it had gotten into my bag. I ripped it open and pulled a photograph out. It was an 8X10 glossy of a man. He was standing on a street corner, looking just past the photographer. He looked like he didn’t know he was being photographed, like someone had happened along with their cell phone camera and snapped his picture. He was possibly mid-­thirties to early forties, and nice looking in a button-­down kind of way. Short brown hair. Fair-­skinned. Wearing a dark suit. I didn’t recognize the street corner or the man. Somehow on the trip home I must have picked the envelope up by mistake—­maybe when I stopped at the newsstand in the airport.

Customer Reviews

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Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1314 reviews.
vickytren More than 1 year ago
I love the Stephanie Plum series. it's awesome!!!! can't wait to read the next.
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I am so excited to get my hands on this one !!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started out not wanting to read this set of books but my daughter pushed until i decided to give it a try. I laughed until i cried. At least until i got to the last couple three books. I will no longer read them. They have gotten old and stale. They started out being great reads but Janet no longer puts much thought into what she is writing and frankly not worth my time now. There are much better authers out there that put in the effort to keep their readers entertained. I can only hope janet starts putting more effort into her books. She can be a great writer if she would slow down and give us what we are paying for. A GOOD BOOK!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Explosive Eighteen was better than the last few books but it was still not up to the standards set by the first few. There were one or two laugh out loud moments, you find out what happened in Hawaii (one paragraph), & Stephanie deals with some not-so-scary bad guys. I understand that the series revolves around the love triangle, but I wish that something big would shake things up (not a pregnancy like some people suggest). There isn't much spark between Stephanie and Joe or Ranger. I think it would do Janet Evanovich some good to take some time away from the series and come back with some new fresh ideas. I will continue to read the series because it is an easy light read & I care about the characters, but it really has become the same thing over and over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I eagerly awaited the 18th installment, hoping there would be a significant improvement over the last few novels. It was better than seventeen and certainly better than sixteen, but the story is repetitive and stale. I wish Stephanie would show some significant growth, and while Lula can be great comic relief the character is so ridiculous she's become an anvil, further pulling down the series. The series is tired, time to put it to bed.
mame4454 More than 1 year ago
What a waste of money and time. Same old formula, nothing new....boring. Stephanie Plum is such a great character, but why no new stories, plots, characters? Same old, same old Janet Evanovich has really let her readers down with this new installment.
iwannabelula More than 1 year ago
I love the series. I believe the characters are well developed. However, with all of the characters involved, it is hard to address each and every one of them in all of the books. I think Janet does a GREAT job. However, I myself, am getting a little tired of the love triangle. Stephanie's character needs to make a choice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this series for the first 12 or 13 books. However, it has gotten terribly boring and predictable. Way past time for Stephanie to grow up and move on. Really bothers me that she sleeps with Ranger one day and Morelli the next. There is no way they would put up with that. This book seemed very short and undeveloped. I get frustrated waiting 2-3 years for Diana Gabaldon to release a book but at least she has plenty of plot and character developement. Dont waste the money. Wait for it to show up at your library.
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
After books 15-17, I was ready to say stick a fork in Stephanie because she is done. I'm not even convinced JE wrote those books. However, I am inclined to believe that JE actually wrote this book. It really reminds me of the earlier Plum books that were so fun to read. It also seemed like a full length novel compared to 17 that had 300 pages, but gigantic font and a lot of spacing. I think this book heads the series back in the right direction and was happy to see even Stephanie start to recognize that maybe something needs to change. I wish we'd been given more of the Hawaii incident, but overall it was a fun read. It seems that maybe this series still has hope.
Pat76 More than 1 year ago
I have read all the S Plum books. If you want something fun and easy to read try this series. Yes, it does almost read like a comedy comic book series but I fell in love with the characters and have not as of yet tired of reading Stephanie's adventures. "Babe"......
emneilsen1 More than 1 year ago
I hate to say it but Explosive Eighteen is the last Janet Evanovich book I will ever read . . . I'm tired of her never having Stephanie make a choice and I'm just tired of reading almost the same stories over and over again . . . I'm sad because I really enjoyed the first half of these books but she's lost me and that stinks :( She should have ended after book 11 with a final choice between the two men . . . the stories just seem rehashed and sad and I won't waste my money on another of her books.
AHHP More than 1 year ago
Not one laugh. Stories are getting old and Lula needs to be retired. I used to love these books.
StephenBerkley More than 1 year ago
I don't know why the author keeps on remaking her characters in a way that it gets too boring and all. The quality of the story depreciates in every sequel that comes out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The continuing disappointment with the Stephanie Plum series is Janet E. not allowing her charcters to grow. It has become ridiculous, to say the least, that the main character is just as inept in book 18 as she is in book 1. It's been made quite clear that Stephanie Plum is just a loser with no idea how to do more in life than to get laid and eat a donut. I will never spend another dime on this series again.
rob2 More than 1 year ago
This book was slow boring and lacked any funny parts that used to be there. I do believe the series is dead in the water
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a big Janet Enavovich fan and a bigger Stephanie Plum fan for years. I have read all the book and I will not complain about the money. Its has been well worth it for all the laughs they have both given me through out the years. With that being said, the last two books I feel have been very disappointing. There has been less of the Ranger/ Joe/ Stephanie triangle ( it seems like Janet has put Stephanie with Joe but still has Ranger in the backround ,to me this has always me very entertaining) We haven't seen any of Stephanie's usually pants not fitting so she doesnt button the top button, running to the bakery to pick a a whole cake because she had a bad day. Eating tastykakes. These are the things that I think of when Stephanie Plum comes into my mind . (Which also makes her almost normal in a sense). Janet hasn't Stephanieism in her books for some time. The books seem to be becoming more about those in Stephanie life then Stephanie herself. As a big Ranger fan I will admit I do want to see more of him in the books. I feel the earlier book were more entertaining and had many more laughs. I wish Janet would get back to that in BOOK # 19.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing fresh in book #18. Won't be buying anymore. Janet began to go downhill on book #16. It's the same old stuff. I think we've all been waiting to see Steph's choice in men. It's gotten to be ridiculous. Good characters wasted with bad writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was enjoyable. I liked the variety of characters, and enjoyed that the matchmaker was back. Now it's finger tapping time waiting for the next one!
Bound2review More than 1 year ago
I really like this series, it is a funny feel good series. The characters always make me laugh and the situations that Lula and Stephanie get themselves into are hilarious. I don’t think this book was as good as some of her first ones; I’ m hoping it was a filler book that is preparing you for an awesome storyline for next time. The plot in this book was too forced for me, it just didn’t flow like her earlier novels did. Of course, I am still a big Janet Evanovich fan and will continually read her books as they come out. I just hope that Mrs. Evanovich gets back to the depth and heart that was present in the early books and has lost along the way.
MudFrog More than 1 year ago
I love this series... but this one is not my favorite book of the series.... hoping the next is better...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not like the change of direction from last book. It looked like Steph was finally taking some control of her life and then she takes two steps back. Morelli only thinks of sex. Ranger has loved her al this time waiting for her to figure things out. He loves and accepts her for who she is, not for what he expects a wife to be. Please please let her and Ranger explore the possibilty of a long term relationship. I think the series would bring some excitement back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of this series but this wasnt my favorite book of the series. It was entertaining but not as funny as some of the other books. looking forward to the next book.
booksandwine More than 1 year ago
This is only the 4th Stephanie Plum book that I have read as I started with 15. This one was enjoyable but frankly I just wanted it to be over with. All the usuals are here, Stephanie, Lulu, Morelli, Ranger, Grandma but I didn't laugh as much with this one. The stories are beginning to feel formulaic to me. I'd also like to see Stephanie chose one or the other and get on to the next stage of her life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Havent read it yet, but seriously forget Joe. Ranger is where its at. Im getting fed up with a triangle that spans over years.
Queens_Taino More than 1 year ago
It's been awhile since I visited 'The Burg' and it was better than my last visit, but not as good as I'd hoped. The whodunit mystery feel has long gone and has been replaced with a little too much romance for my taste. I'm all for some lemons, but campy romance novels are a no go for me. The G-rated overtones between Ranger and Morelli are maddening and Stephanie is not as cute as she used to be. Lula and Grandma Mazur try to keep the laughs coming, but fall short of their initial potency. After 18 books, I hope Ms. Evanovich finishes this series asap. I didn't make it through, Smokin' Seventeen and barely made it through this one. The Stephanie Plum series used to be a fun diversion - now it's barely fun and more closely resembles aversion therapy. I would recommend reading the first ten books in the series - they were fun, lighthearted and whole lot of fun.