Shoot to Thrill (Monkeewrench #5), by P.J. Tracy

Eight stars

P.J. Tracy continues her wonderful series with a fifth novel that taps into some of the technological aspects of crime in the 21st century. As they still remember their last major case in the middle of a blizzard, Homicide Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth find themselves in the middle of a Minneapolis heatwave. They are, however, fitted out in a wonderfully air conditioned ride, at least for a time. When they are called to the river to investigate a floater, Magozzi and Rolseth soon learn that they are in for more than they thought, but are assisted by a former judge who’s down on his luck and pining for booze. Meanwhile, members of Monkeewrench have been called to an ‘invite-only’ meeting with the FBI, headed by Special Agent John Smith. It would appear that a number of people have been anonymously posting videos of killings, which is troubling enough. Who is out there, posting snuff films to social media across the country? Working an angle with some of their high-tech software, Monkeewrench discovers that people have been posting cryptic messages about potential killings, all around America. Working not only to crack through the plethora of chat room messages, Grace MacBride and her team try to sift through snuff versus fake murder videos, all while Agent Smith waits idly by to stop this spree of killings. Magozzi soon learns that his own case might have some ties to the social media killings, along with trying to decipher the struggles with his ongoing relationship, which seems to have hit a dry patch. P.J. Tracy proves that this is a series worth the time invested. Series fans will flock to this one, and those new to the party can binge (as I did) with ease to catch up.

I cannot put into words how much I enjoy P.J. Tracy’s work as I binge my way through this series! The stories continue to scratch an itch that I get when needing something a little lighter to pass the summer months. Magozzi and Rolseth assume their positions as protagonists again, using great banter and strong sleuthing skills to keep the reader hooked from the early chapters. There are some great character development moments for Magozzi, who continues to struggle with Grace MacBride and a potential new woman to keep things spicy. The series reader will know that the Magozzi-MacBride oscillation has been one that is simmering, tension—sexual and otherwise—always present. The entire Monkeewrench crew is present, using their skills to crack the current case open and Tracy shows some development with them, if only peppered throughout the narrative. This novel’s ‘spotlight’ character would surely be FBI Special Agent John Smith, whose beige attitude does not change throughout the investigation. He sticks out against the strong characters found within the narrative and there are some interesting hints about whether he might reappear, but that is for the reader to discover in the novel. Secondary characters offer some interesting perspectives within the novel, as Tracy is able to effectively utilise them to push home key points to drive home a theme throughout the narrative. The narrative flows well and the reader is treated to decent writing that lacks at times within the genre. Moving away from the traditional police procedural, P.J. Tracy entertains the reader with strong storylines, perfect for a vacation or summer binge. I am eager to keep racing through these books and will likely soon catch up to a great Goodreads friend who is bingeing as well.

Kudos, P.J. Tracy, for another wonderful piece. I am so happy to have found this series and hope to feel more chills throughout this summer reading binge!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: