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Hardcore Twenty-Four

A Stephanie Plum Novel

Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times-bestselling sensation Stephanie Plum returns in her twenty-fourth captivating thriller, where corpses litter the streets of New Jersey.

Trouble comes in bunches for Stephanie Plum. First, professional grave robber and semiprofessional loon Simon Diggery won't let her take him in until she agrees to care for his boa constrictor, Ethel. Stephanie's main qualification for babysitting an extremely large snake is that she owns a taser--whether that's for use on the wandering serpent or the petrified neighbors remains to be seen.

Events take a dark turn when headless bodies start appearing across town. At first it's just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. But when a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church, Stephanie knows that she's the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If all that's not enough, Diesel's back in town. The six-foot-tall, blond-haired hunk is a man who accepts no limits--that includes locked doors, closed windows, and underwear. Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, isn't pleased at this unexpected arrival, nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant who has his own plans for Stephanie.

As usual, Jersey's favorite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle, with more questions than answers. What's the deal with Grandma Mazur's latest online paramour? Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel's sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?
Janet Evanovich is the #1 bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, the Fox and O'Hare novels, the Lizzy and Diesel series, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, and
How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, and coauthor of a graphic novel,
Troublemaker, with her daughter, Alex.
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  • Simon Diggery and Ethel, his pet boa constrictor, were up a tree about fifty feet from Simon's rust bucket doublewide. Ethel looked comfy draped over a branch halfway up the tree. Simon looked like death warmed over. He was scrunched into a crook a couple feet below Ethel. He was barefoot, wearing striped pajamas, and his grey hair was even more of a mess than usual.

    My name is Stephanie Plum. I work as a bond enforcement officer in Trenton, New Jersey, and Simon was in violation of his bond.

    Simon is a professional grave robber. When he gets caught robbing a grave my cousin Vinnie is his bail bondsman of choice. Vinnie posts a cash bond guaranteeing the court that if Simon is released he will return when scheduled. If Simon doesn't show up on time, I'm sent out to fetch him.

    I was presently standing a respectable distance from the tree, looking up at Simon, keeping a watch on Ethel. I was with my sidekick, Lula.

    If Lula was a pastry she'd be a big chocolate cupcake with a lot of frosting. I'd be more of a croissant with a ponytail. I have curly shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes, and some people think I look like Julia Roberts on her day off.

    "Simon," Lula yelled. "What the heck are you and Ethel doing in the tree?"

    "I been up here since last night," Simon said. "I'm afraid to come down on account of the zombies."

    "You gotta stop drinking that home-made grain liquor," Lula said.

    "I wasn't drinking," Simon said. "I was working my trade at that cemetery on Morley Street last night, and I accidentally dug into a zombie portal."

    "Say what?" Lula said. "I never heard of no zombie portal."

    "It's not widely publicized that they exist. Mostly people in my profession know about it. It's an occupational hazard. I only dug into a portal once before, and I was able to beat the zombies back with my shovel, but this time was a whole other deal. There was too many of them, so I ran for my truck and took off. Only thing is they tracked me down. They got a real good sense of smell. They're like raggedy bloodhounds. They come at me when I was sleeping. They wanted my brain. That's what they kept saying. Brains, brains, brains. I'd be a goner if it wasn't for Ethel. She don't like getting woke up, and I guess zombies don't like snakes. Anyways I was able to get away, and Ethel and me climbed this tree."

    "Because zombies can't climb trees?" I asked Simon.

    "You got it," Simon said. "Zombies only walk straight ahead. They can't back up neither."

    "You were supposed to be in court first thing this morning," I told him.

    "Well excuse me," Simon said, "but I had bigger problems. "Suppose I was able to get to court, and the zombies followed me there, and they ate all the people's brains who were in the court?"

    "This is Trenton," Lula said. "You might not notice."

    I cut my eyes to Lula. "There are no zombies."

    "How can you be sure?" Lula said.

    I blew out a sigh and looked back at Simon. "Here's the deal. You come down, and we'll protect you from the zombies."

    "You gotta either chop off their head or shoot them in the brain," Simon said. "That's the only way."

    "I got a gun," Lula said, shoving her hand into her over-sized imitation Jimmy Choo bag. "It's in here somewhere."

    "What about Ethel?" Simon said. "If I stay in jail awhile until the zombies forget about me, who's gonna take care of Ethel?"

    "You'll have to make arrangements," I said.

    "I don't got no one," Simon said. "My cousin Snacker is in West Virginia, and my neighbors would chop her up and fry her in bacon fat. You gotta promise to take care of Ethel."

    "No way," I said.

    "Me neither," Lula said.

    "She's no bother," Simon said. "You just gotta feed her once a week. Just come in and leave her a groundhog or something."

    "They don't usually sell groundhog in the sup
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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 304
Erscheinungsdatum 02.10.2018
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-399-17921-1
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 19/10,6/2,5 cm
Gewicht 177 g
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
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