Check It Out: Female sleuths on the loose at library

Janet Evanovich's latest Stephanie Plum caper, "Explosive Eighteen," is set to be released this month, but what does that leave you with after you've finished? Check out some of these series starters that are the perfect follow-ups to Stephanie Plum's antics.

Cat DeLuca turned her unfortunate divorce from her wayward ex-husband into a new career by opening her own private eye agency. It's the Pants on Fire Detective Agency where the motto is "We Catch Liars and Cheats."

Cat's latest case seems straightforward enough. Tail Rita Polansky's cheating husband, Chance Savino, shoot a few incriminating photos, and present the evidence to her client. But when she follows Chance into a warehouse that's rigged with a bomb she quickly realizes this job isn't so simple. According to the authorities Chance died in the explosion, but Cat isn't convinced because Savino makes unexpected appearances that only she witnesses.

Like Stephanie Plum, Cat has to contend with her dysfunctional family mostly consisting of Chicago Cops and they all want what's best for her. Find out how Cat escapes her family and sticks with the case in K. J. Larsen's "Liar, Liar."

In "Swift Justice" by Laura DiSilverio, Charlotte "Charlie" Swift heads up Swift Investigations, a one-woman P.I. firm with a silent partner. Charlie prefers to work alone, but she ends up with an associate when her silent partner runs off leaving his wife, Gigi, with his half of Swift Investigations.

Gigi is eager to learn what it takes to be a private investigator and become a real partner. Meanwhile, Charlie's got a legitimate case to crack while simultaneously making every attempt to break Gigi by giving her any outlandish assignment she can. The relationship between these two women is comparable to Evanovich's, Stephanie and Lulu, and the two make one laugh-out-loud odd couple.

Author Nancy Martin introduces Roxy Abruzzo in "Our Lady of Immaculate Deception." Roxy runs an architectural salvage business and at the burned-out estate of one of Pittsburgh's wealthiest Roxy nabs a rare find, an ancient Greek statue.

Unfortunately the statue wasn't up for grabs and this minor detail causes Roxy a world of trouble when the estate's owner is murdered. Hiding a 7-foot statue while on the case is no easy task, and Roxy is off on a wild game of cat-and-mouse.

Teeny Templeton's finally got a bright future ahead of her. She's looking forward to her upcoming nuptials to Bing Jackson, but everything turns sour when she returns home unexpectedly and sees her fiancé naked and playing badminton with two equally naked females. Needless to say, that's the end of Teeny's happily ever after with Bing and she climbs up a peach tree and hurls the fruit at the naked parties.

Teeny becomes suspect No. 1 when Bing turns up dead a few days after her confrontation. How can this peach sweet-talk her way out of her predicament and who really killed Bing Jackson? Find out in Michael Lee West's, "Gone With a Handsomer Man."

Piper Donovan's down on her luck. As an out of work actress she's forced to move back home and lend a hand at her mom's bakery. With no job prospects on the horizon, she commits to decorating actress Glenna Brooks' wedding cake.

Piper and Glenna met on the soap opera where Piper's character was killed off, leaving her unemployed. Events turn into a real-life soap opera when a friend of the bride is murdered and someone is determined to ensure Glenna doesn't get married.

Piper gets a little help from an old neighbor who also happens to be a handsome FBI agent. The two narrow down the list of suspects to figure out who's trying to get Glenna to say 'I don't' in Mary Jane Clark's "To Have and to Kill."

Packed with plenty of laughs, zany characters, and a little romance here and there, all of these first installments will have you clamoring for more.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at http://www.newportbeachlibrary.org. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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