Elizabeth “Lizzy” Tucker seems to be the anti-Stephanie Plum. For one thing, she is blonde versus brunette. For another, she was raised in homogenous northern Virginia and now lives in quaint coastal Massachusetts, rather than gritty, multi-ethnic New Jersey. And as a cupcake chef at Dazzle’s Bakery in nearby Salem, she uses her oven for more than warming up takeout pizza.
And yet…Lizzy has not only inherited her Great Aunt Ophelia’s historic house in Marblehead, she seems to have been willed several of Stephanie’s prized recent companions: the golden now-you-see-him-now- you-don’t Diesel of the Between the Numbers series (Visions of Sugar Plums to Plum Spooky), and his dark-haired dark-hearted cousin Gerwulf “Wulf” Grimoire (Plum Spooky), as well as etiquette-challenged Carl the Monkey (Fearless Fourteen, Plum Spooky). Automobiles of various makes and models are also despoiled, then replaced. So to say that Wicked Appetite kicks off a “new” series from author Janet Evanovich is a stretch.
And yet…Evanovich cooks up plenty of half-baked wackiness to nourish a tasty tale. It turns out that Lizzy, like Diesel, is an “Unmentionable”—a more-or-less mortal with special skills. Diesel’s employers (the Board of Unmentionable Marshalls, or BUM) need Lizzy’s ability to scout out a collection of ancient relics known as the SALIGIA Stones, which represent the Seven Deadly Sins. Rumor has it that all have been secreted in Salem, and it’s a madcap race to find the keepers of these “magic charms” before Wulf tracks them down for his own less-benevolent purposes. With Gluttony at the top of the scavenger list in this outing, expect appetites of all sorts to run ravenous.
Evanovich also serves up Lizzy with side dishes of sidekicks: bakery owner and former Unmentionable Clara Dazzle, coworker and amateur spell-caster Glo, and a one-eyed ninja house pet named Cat 7143. This being Salem and an Evanovich novel, it’s hard to tell the normal from the paranormal. You don’t have to possess Unmentionable powers to guess that at least six more Diesel and Lizzy adventures are on the menu. So far, the whimsical banter and over-the-top subplots have a familiar flavor. And yet… As Diesel says to Lizzy, “If this is what happens to you with the Gluttony Stone, I can’t wait until we go after Lust.”