Twisted Twenty-Six is a contemporary mystery novel written by New York Times bestselling American novelist Janet Evanovich and the twenty-sixth book in the "Stephanie Plum" series. Evanovich began her career writing romance novels but gamed fame with she started writing about Stephanie Plum, a former lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter, who starts bringing in felons to help pay the bills.
As of 2019, Evanovich has published over twenty-six novels, four-holiday novels, and a short story as part of her Stephanie Plum series. The first book in the series, One for the Money, was made into a feature-length film in 2012. Janet Evanovich has sold over two hundred million books worldwide, her books have been translated into over forty languages, and she has had multiple Stephanie Plum books debut at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and #1 on the USA Today bestseller list.
I've been a fan of Stephanie Plum for at least a decade now. I fell in love with the series after I read One for the Money. Stephanie Plum's character is such a likeable heroine and her inner monologue is very hilarious and relatable. In One for the Money, Stephanie is tasked with bringing in Joseph "Joe" Morelli, her former on again off again boyfriend, neighborhood bad boy, and vice cop who was forced to dodge bail after he was falsely accused of murder. One for the Money is one of the best books I have ever read. It is laugh-out-loud funny, raunchy crime novel. It's the sort of book I can pick up and re-read again and again just for fun.
I have so many fond memories of this book series. The first fifteen books in the series were great, and then things started to get a bit stale. One of the biggest criticisms of the Stephanie Plum series is that very little ever changes in them. The books all follow the same, predictable formula. After twenty-six novels, Stephanie still does her laundry at her parents' house and mooches food of them, hates her job as a bounty hunter, and finds herself torn romantically between Joe Morelli and Ranger, her fellow bounty hunter and mentor. The lack of real plot and character development in the past few books has started to frustrate me. I just want something to happen to shake up this series.
The quality of the books has dipped so much, after reading Look Alive, Twenty-Five, I almost gave up on reading anymore of them. But then Twisted Twenty-Six came out, and I changed my mind. The pull of nostalgia was just too much for me. I hoped that this book would be better than the last few ones that had disappointed me.
Twisted Twenty-Six is 320 pages long and was published on 12 November 2019 by Penguin Random House. The book revolves around Stephanie Plum's maternal grandmother, Edna Mazur, who decides on a whim to marry a local gangster named Jimmy Rosolli. The marriage doesn't last very long. Rosolli drops dead of a heart attack 45 minutes after exchanging vows with Grandma Mazur, making her a widow. After her husband passes away, Grandma Mazur is visited by the mob, who accuse her of keeping a set of keys to a financial windfall that Jimmy was safekeeping for them. Grandma Mazur denies she has the keys, but the mob doesn't believe her. It will be up to her granddaughter, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, to protect her from Jimmy's old business partners.
Twisted Twenty-Six was an enjoyable, but mediocre book. The book follows the same formula, but is still a fun read, and was an improvement over the last couple Stephanie Plum books. I liked the mob, Jimmy's old associates the La-Z-boys, and thought they made good villains. There was some character growth in the book as well, which I liked. I liked how much attention was put on Grandma Mazur. Grandma Mazur is one of my favourite characters in these books. She refuses to act like an old lady, carries a gun in her over-sized purse, dyes her hair crazy colours, likes to tag along with Stephanie when she catches crooks, and enjoys going to funerals for the gossip and free cookies. We see a more serious and vulnerable side of Grandma Mazur in this book. I really like the close bond she develops with Stephanie in this book, it is very sweet. The two of them are very much alike.
What's interesting about this book is that Janet Evanovich actually acknowledges Stephanie's lack of real character growth in it. Stephanie has not aged in real-time, which Evanovich pokes fun at in a scene. Stephanie is still in her thirties in the book, but tells her friend Lula she feels so tired and fed up with her job, she could be in her fifties. It was a fun little scene that paid tribute to how long the series has been going on.
The description for Twisted Twenty-Six reads "This isn't just another case. This is family" which I thought was a really fitting description for this book series. One of the things that I have always liked about the Stephanie Plum novels have been the scenes when Stephanie spent time with her family. In Twisted Twenty-Six there is a scene when Stephanie drops by her Mum's house with Ranger to pick up some sandwiches. The description of the sandwiches and how lovingly they were made by her mother felt so wholesome, just like going home.