After sixteen books, the Stephanie Plum series is showing a good deal of wear. Heck, by book seven, it was starting to show wear (and I loved the first six books). At this point, the series is running on fumes. Sizzling Sixteen is one of Evanovich's most lackluster showings. It really feels like she was phoning it in.
Vincent (Vinnie) Plum, Stephanie's employer, has racked up a huge debt to the mob. When Vinnie doesn't pay up, Bobby Sunflower (the villain du jour) kidnaps him and tries to extort the money from Vinnie's family and coworkers. It's up to Stephanie, Lula and Connie to save him.
As usual, Stephanie is torn between two lovers--Morelli and Ranger--but the sparks are missing this time around. There's a few flirtatious moments, but they come off as tepid and forced. It feels like the characters are getting as bored with the love triangle as the readers (and possibly, the author).
But what's really missing are the laugh-out-loud moments that characterize the series and make it worth reading even though the "incompetent bounty hunter" premise has been flogged to death.
It's not that the potential isn't there. Mooner, Stephanie's perpetually stoned friend from high school, plays a prominent role in the story. Mooner is helping run a hobbit convention, and hosting a group of hobbit cos-players in his travel trailer. Anyone's who's ever been to a convention of this kind, knows that it's fertile ground for humor.
Unfortunately, Evanovich didn't bother to research (attend) a con. Instead, she relies on one note humor grounded in stereotypes. Basically: "Cos-players are hopeless nerds who wear silly outfits and give themselves even sillier names." You might think this would be offensive to cos-players, but, honestly, the narrative can't even muster the energy to be offensive. Mooner, who in previous books was funny, is a flat, two-dimension cutout who sounds like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' mentally-impaired cousin.
While I can sympathize with Evanvich's position (trying to beat new life into a very dead horse of a premise), I think it's time the series was allowed to expire.