Seven Up is the seventh outing in the series about Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter. This time she’s after an old mobster who kills people and is dating her grandmother.
What I Liked
As with many of the Plum stories, it is often the secondary characters that add spice and liveliness to the story. DeChooch, the old and inept mobster, is a hoot and we get to see a lot more interactions with Moonman. There are so many cute scenes — like when she finds a bunch of stolen merchandise in a bedroom, asks for an explanation, and ends up buying a toaster. Oh and there’s a little thing about planning a wedding.
What I Didn’t Like
The basic premise of why everyone is looking for DeChooch is a bit far-fetched, but whatever. In addition, the arrival of sister Valerie with two kids in tow adds little to the story. And don’t get me started on the kidnapping of Grandma.
Plum is on her fifth outing, looking for her missing uncle and one angry little man. Uncle Fred was complaining about paying for garbage pickup, and the truck skipped his house. So he went into complain and disappeared. Of course, he’s in the Plum family, so the weird part is he left behind photos of severed body parts in garbage bags. Aunt Mabel wants Stephanie to look for him, although she’s not entirely sure she wants the cheap bastard found and brought home. Plus, a midget missed his court date.
Stephanie Plum has settled in to her job as a bounty hunter, and so picking up a missing NJ girl who failed to appear after stealing her boyfriend’s truck seems like a cakewalk. And there’s a bonus — the boyfriend is willing to give her money too to find her and get some supposed love letters back from her. Easy peasy. Except nothing is easy for Plum, ever. The missing girl wants to stay missing, and her mother and co-worker are helping. Even when somebody else is looking for the girl too, and willing to hurt people to get them to talk.
A body is found with the letter “P” carved into its forehead. P stands for pawn, and it is dumped in upper Manhattan, using the streets as a chessboard. The Knight and Bishop follow. And the chess-game begins. Inspector Regal has been chosen by the killer to play the game, which he does through moves placed in the New York Times. As long as the game is interesting, no more bodies. But Regal is not a very good chess player, the game becomes dull for the killer, and another body appears. But Regal has an ace in the hole: a retired master player named Billy Abbott who left the chess world behind and disappeared before it took over his life. Abbott tells Regal the moves to make the game interesting, and for awhile, he does — even turning the game around and winning. But having Regal win the game is not the object of the killer who targets Regal personally. A series of sub-plots involve a cop working for Regal who had been killed during the line of duty while hunting down Panamanian drug runners, and a female cop who loved him and wants justice; a political side with Regal butting heads with his departmental rival who is in charge of both investigations; and a personal side, with Regal suspecting his wife of having an affair with a power mogul. This is the second “Dev Strkyer” novel, a nom-de-plume for Warren Murphy and Molly Cochrane.