(I've always been rather underwhelmed with this series' covers but oh well. The books are so good, they don't need the cover to sell them!)
I think it really speaks for itself that I'm twenty-one books into a series and still loving them! I was on the library's request list for this one months before it was even published. I even went so far as to request both the physical book and the audiobook to double my chances of getting it quickly! The physical book came in first, so for the first time since Two for the Money I read the book instead of listening.
I feel like Top Secret Twenty-One was just a little more tense than previous books. As the book opens, Rangeman is attacked by a terrorist who's aim is to assassinate Ranger. Ranger... big, strong, invincible Ranger is being attacked! That's kind of scary. And it also means that he's not able to watch Stephanie quite as closely, so I felt scared for her too.
Stephanie, in the meantime, is looking for a used car salesman named Jimmy Poletti. Turns out he was selling more than just cars out of the back of his lot. Strange thing is, all of Jimmy's closest buddies are turning up dead. Even Morelli and his cop coworkers can't figure it out. Stephanie ends up doing something she never thought she'd do: protecting Briggs while he helps her find Poletti. Turns out he was helping cook the books for Poletti, so he might actually be useful. But will his usefulness be enough to overcome his tendency to annoy?
I just love these books so much! I love the mystery, and I love the oddity, and I love the characters. I take comfort in the formulaic layout to these books. We know that Stephanie is going to destroy 1-5 cars. We know Lula will eat chicken and possibly date a criminal briefly. We know Stephanie's apartment might get destroyed. And we know there will be some oddball occurrence that will eventually figure into the mystery. (In this book, it's a roving pack of feral Chihuahuas.) I definitely recommend people try this series.
*I received my copy from my public library.