Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.
Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.
Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.
With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.
Penelope Anne Drizkowski-Penny Dreadful to her friends-leads an interesting life, but it's starting to get just a bit too interesting. First off, a young lady has enough trouble fending off unwanted advances, but what is one to do when they're from vampires? What about werewolves?
Then again, most girls aren't witches. With the help of a silver luckpiece, a mummified hand and a talking black cat, any number of things are possible. For example, protecting two helpless orphans. Well, not completely helpless-and their father's a vampire, so they're not precisely orphaned either-but Melanie and Malory Gorian still need her help, and she intends to give it.
Of course, mixing Jewish folklore with Catholic heresy isn't the best idea, especially when you add magick. And looking for helpful hints in an evil sorceress's Books of Shadows doesn't exactly help matters, especially when our heroine is forced to use an ancient and obscene rite, too dreadful to be mentioned here, except to relate that it will shock, horrify and amaze!
Black magick, windswept mansions, ghostly visitations, sinister housekeepers and any number of locked chests-as well as butter knives, Number Two pencils, fountain pens and Hello Kitty. After all, this is '90s, and Goth is in.
Chapter One: Morning, Sunday, the 28th of April: In which Penny experiences Winter in Springtime, Peter smells a rat, an ugly man is overcome by beauty, not to mention bitterness and brute force, Neville calls a war council, and Blackrose presents her 'signature fragrance.' This followed by a visit to the Alexandrian Club, where Penny makes a Wilde assumption, the merest suggestion of black humor gives rise to little amusement, and we are reminded not only of the Language of the Fan and of Flowers, but of the curious Code of Handkerchiefs. After which Penny chooses a new fragrance, dances upon several graves, and an attractive gentleman makes an even more attractive offer.
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