Takedown Twenty - Janet Evanovich
The guy from the fire department closed his notebook, glanced at Morelli, and gave him one of those looks that said, You poor bastard, how did you ever get involved with this idiot woman?

It's hard to disagree with the guy from the fire department isn't it?  You wonder the same about Ranger, too.  What do these guys see in this gal?  What do I see in her? 

Stephanie Plum books frequently have just goofy, sit-com-y images/situations at their center.  This book starts off with one of the goofiest and zaniest so far.  Frankly, I find the zanier aspects of these annoying and off-putting, but this one worked for me.  Though if Evanovich had come back to this well one or two more times, I might have felt differently.

The central mystery was okay, and could've been even better than that -- but Evanovich didn't handle it right.  Stephanie's helping Ranger investigate a series of murders of elderly women.  She really cares about this investigation, we're repeatedly told by Stephanie.  But if she didn't tell us that a few times, there'd be no reason to believe that, she certainly doesn't act like she cares -- at least not enough to have a sense of urgency about it.  She spends maybe 30 minutes a day on the investigation, and then goes home, goes to her parents', or pigs out with Lula.  And yeah, that's her usual M.O. -- but that's just when she's chasing down a pretty non-dangerous character. 

Why does Stephanie ever bring Lula along to help with anything.  She almost always turns things into a debacle and then goes shopping/to a drive thru/both.  She so rarely contributes anything positive that you could use the phrase "never contributes" and only be guilty of slight exaggeration.  If I hadn't mentally cast Retta as Lula so I hear everything in her voice, I don't think I could stand her any more.

This is an okay enough entry in a series that's become okay enough.  I was entertained just enough to make it worth my while and come back for the next one (probably).  But nothing more.  I know Evanovich is capable of better, but at this point, she has little motivation to do better.  She can turn in "good enough" and it'll become a best seller, why put in the extra effort?  But apparently, I'll keep giving her chances to turn things around.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/takedown-twenty-by-janet-evanovich