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Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum) Hardcover – June 18, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 817 customer reviews
Book 8 of 21 in the Stephanie Plum Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Hard Eight, Stephanie Plum picks up a case a little nastier than anything the wisecracking bounty hunter's seen before. Evelyn Soder and her young daughter have gone on the run, leaving an angry ex-husband who's planning to collect on a child custody bond that will leave Evelyn's grandmother homeless. Stephanie's first clue that there's more to it than that comes in the form of Eddie Abruzzi, a shady local businessman who warns her to butt out of the case. Stephanie doesn't scare easily, but when Abruzzi's henchmen leave a bag of snakes on her doorknob and tarantulas in her car, she has no choice but to call Ranger, the hunky man of mystery whom she already owes too many favors. Steph knows that Ranger will soon be calling in his marker, but with her ex- fiancé Joe Morelli out of the picture, that should be OK--shouldn't it? In the meantime, she's got other fugitives to catch, aided by the usual band of misfits, plus a bumbling correspondence-school lawyer who's developed the hots for Stephanie's sister, Valerie. And Steph's in for a surprise from her mother, who proves she's not above wielding a dangerous weapon to save her daughter's life.

Author Janet Evanovich has made a bold move in using a soupçon of child jeopardy to pull this series out of the comfortable but formulaic pattern it was threatening to fall into. It's still funny, and yes, some cars are destroyed, but now there's a real edge of darkness under the humor. Fans needn't fear, though: Jersey girl Stephanie is still full of sass and Tastykakes. --Barrie Trinkle

From Publishers Weekly

The menace is more personal for Trenton's favorite bounty hunter and the energy more manic in this latest outing than in last year's Seven Up. As a favor to her mother's next-door neighbor, Mabel Markowitz, Stephanie agrees to check up on the lady's granddaughter, Evelyn Soder, who has suddenly taken off with her little girl, Annie, leaving behind a child custody bond against Mabel's house. The son-in-law is a bad guy who lost his bar to Eddie Abruzzi, a very nasty character who owns evelyn's building. Soon someone in a bunny suit is trailing Stephanie, her car is blown up, her apartment infiltrated and a dead body appears on her couch. She calls in her associate, Ranger, the gorgeous and mysterious Cuban bond agent, while her sometime boyfriend, Morelli the cop, also gets on the case - a real doozy for which she's not getting paid. On the home front, ever-raunchy Grandma Mazur is eager to assist. Sister Valerie and kids have moved back in as well, so there's nowhere but the couch for Stephanie and one bathroom for all. Valerie is inexplicably attracted to Evelyn's goofy lawyer, who's been tagging along with Stephanie and the ever-outrageous file clerk and ex-hooker Lula, further complicating this twisted case. Life in the Burg takes on a sinister turn with serious results. Evanovich does it again, delivering an even more suspenseful and more outrageous turn with the unstoppable Stephanie, heroine of all those who have to live on peanut butter until the next check comes through. Waiting for nine will be tough.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Stephanie Plum (Book 8)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (July 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312265859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312265854
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (817 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When Evelyn Soder disappears with her daughter, it means big trouble for her mother, Mabel Markowitz. The judge in Evelyn's divorce insisted on a child custody bond and Evelyn's ex-husband is intent on collecting it. Mabel co-signed for the bond, and now she may lose her home. Stephanie Plum, unlucky in love and fugitive apprehension, becomes involved because Mabel is her parents' neighbor. Mabel bakes when she is upset, and the Plums are drowning in bread loaves and coffee cakes.
And so, begins yet another comic adventure in the strange world of 'The Burg,' Trenton's own twilight zone. Soon she finds herself in conflict with Eddie Abruzzi, who is a sociopathic crime lord when he isn't being a sociopathic war gamer. Eddie wants Stephanie out of the Soder investigation, and is perfectly willing to make her crazy before he finally kills her. In addition, Stephanie must deal with Andy Bender, a bond-skipping drunk with a talent for getting Plum to trip over her own feed.
Nor should I fail to mention a lawyer whose name is not spelled c-l-o-w-n, a female apprehension agent who is almost as good as Ranger (and who doesn't keep losing cars, purses and handcuffs), and that usual mad gang of crooks, cohorts and lovers. Yes, Stephanie's love life becomes even more complicated while everything else is going on. Without TastyCakes and pizza, Plum would be well on the way to a nervous breakdown.
This all is typical Evanovich. In fact, it is a bit too typical. Very few writers are able to avoid formula writing when a series begins to stretch out into extra innings, and 'Hard Eight' has started to show the inevitable signs of strain. As a plot, it is very reminiscent of 'High Five.' But while that was fun and original, this time the sight gags and sarcasm are beginning to wear thin.
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By A Customer on May 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Hard Eight is a great addition to the Stephanie Plum series. It gives you everything the other seven books have. Hillarious scenes with the classic characters of wacky Grandma Mazur, Lula, and the rest of the Plum family plus unexpected new twists that break away from the romantic plot line. New involvement with Ranger and Joe, he is still in the running.
This installment is about the search for a missing woman named Evelyn and daughter Annie. Evelyn's grandmother Mabel is a neighbor of the Plum family and she asked Stephanie for her help. Evelyn's ex-husband is about to get a child custody bond funded by Mabel as she put her house up for this. Mabel fears she'll lose her home if Evelyn isn't found and she fears for her great-granddaughter. So, Stephanie, our bounty hunter and her good friend Lula start snooping around and before long they have a run in with Evelyn's landlord, Eddie Abruzzi. Abruzzi, is a nasty man who adds a much needed dark edge to this story.
The humor you expect in a Stephanie Plum book is still there. Stephanie is still between Joe and Ranger. Stephanie still is blowing up cars and the drama from her friend Lula is still a riot. I liked this book the least out of the series but it is still well worth the read and I still found myself laughing out loud several times. If you enjoy this series and who couldn't, this is a must read!
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Format: Hardcover
We thoroughly enjoyed Janet Evanovich's first six Stephanie Plum series about a bounty hunter who has trouble getting out of her own way. With a crazy supporting cast family, especially Grandma Mazur; and two male romantic interests -- Ranger, a fellow mysterious bounty hunter; and Morelli, a cop who deflowered Plum in high school, and who seems to be the best bet for her long term -- the humor and enjoyment seemed to come as a natural byproduct of the stories and the author's writing style. However, book #7 seemed so forced out it was a huge disappointment to almost all but the die-hard fans. Thankfully, Hard Eight is more of a return to the earlier work. Our only quibble is that now the ineptitude of Plum, and her tendency to burn up cars and find dead bodies all over the place, is getting a bit stale. It may be the set has little remaining life expectancy as is.
But this one continues to entertain with a light story about Plum's inability to capture one of her assignments; about a lawyer named Kloughn, the [brunt] of innumerable "clown" jokes, who follows Plum around like a puppy; and Steph's inability to resolve her own conflicts about the two men in her life and what to do about them. She finally "gets lucky" about halfway through the book, at which point we were almost relieved for her. But the book ends on some of the same querulous notes about her and Morelli as we've heard before.
A plot about a missing neighbor and her daughter was a slight shift from earlier books, but pretty much continued to pose as the excuse for the Plum goings-on throughout. In sum, Hard Eight represents a pretty typical entry in the Evanovich Plum series, but for those that have read all eight, the title may have some subtle ulterior meanings. Before we get "Nine Ball" (or whatever), perhaps somebody can figure out how to give Plum's life a facelift, as she does not seem to be growing older on us gracefully.
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Format: Hardcover
In many ways, "Hard Eight" is a typical Stephanie Plum novel. You've got your love triangle, you've got your bad car-ma, you've got your tag-along bounty hunter wannabe's. There are some fun moments, but overall, the book reads like a rough draft rushed to the press.
"Hard Eight" hits the ground running as neighbor Mabel Markowitz makes a tearful plea to Steph - find her granddaughter and great-granddaughter or she'll lose her house. Nothing makes a Burg woman more uncomfortable than an outright display of emotion, and Steph reluctantly agrees to help. In the course of her search, she crosses the wrong kind of folks, and, as usual, finds herself up to her neck in very bad guys.
Unfortunately, a story with so much promise fizzles out in the midst of tepid new characters - such as lawyer Albert Kloughn, whose big recurring joke is that people call him "clown" and he's forced to repeatedly spell his name - and storylines which wrap up a bit too hastily for all the time and emotion invested.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is in how the Ranger/Morelli love triangle is handled, with swift, forced, and out-of-character pronouncements stuffed in between dead bodies and exploding vehicles. One of the series' most endearing qualities has been the emotional tango Steph has been dancing with these two sexy guys. In "Hard Eight" the tango turns into an awkward clomp through muddy terrain, with no one staying true to character.
While I don't begrudge Evanovich her well-earned success, I wish it didn't come at the cost of the quality of the work. The more visible an author is, the higher the pressure to turn out the next money-maker, and sadly that's how "Hard Eight" felt to me as I read it. Another draft would have done wonders for the book... here's hoping Evanovich has the time to do the series justice with "Nine."
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