Off the Grid (Monkeewrench #6), by P.J. Tracy

Eight stars

Just when you think a series must be running out of steam (for how can things remain explosive forever?), P.J. Tracy comes out with another stellar novel in the Monkeewrench series! Down in the Caribbean, Grace MacBride is enjoying a restful, platonic time with former FBI Agent John Smith, aboard his boat. When two masked men make their way on deck and try to kill Smith, MacBride has no choice but to neutralise them. She discovers a photo of Smith and learns that these Saudi nationals seem to have been targeting him for reasons unknown. Back in Minneapolis, Magozzi and Rolseth are neck-deep in a case where a young Indigenous girl has had her throat slashed, one of six kidnapped from a reservation and likely bound for a life of human trafficking. When the authorities arrive at the kidnappers’ house, they find two of the perpetrators shot in the head, the apparent shooter across the way, and the five girls bound in the basement. A number of readings from the Koran and a calendar with a date is circled in red is found inside, leaving Magozzi and Rolseth to wonder if there is something brewing of the terrorist variety. While trying to piece together their case, Magozzi receives a call from Detroit, where a similar situation has occurred, two men killed and the same date circled on the calendar. This is soon matched by even more killings across America, reported by various police forces. Might there be a nation-wide terror plot brewing that the Feds inadvertently discovered? With John Smith off the grid, Magozzi and Rolseth must ensure that all connections to him are secured, including members of the Monkeewrench team. Still, there seems to be something in the works and yet a number of vigilantes stopping things at the same pace. P.J Tracy offers another poignant novel in this evolving series that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat throughout. Perfect for series fans and those who love a quick holiday read!

I have come to thoroughly enjoy this summer binge of P.J. Tracy’s work! The stories continue to find poignant ways to entertain me as I work and putter around the house, while not becoming too repetitive. Magozzi and Rolseth are always able to find new and great banter to keep me smiling, which is matched with their superior sleuthing skills to keep the reader hooked. Magozzi seems to be processing his distancing from Grace MacBride with ease, though the narrative does not spend too much time analyzing it, or his true sentiments about the John Smith angle. Rolseth has his own weak moments, particularly when speaking about child trafficking and his daughter, who is about the same age as these victims. 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. They are, truly, there to keep the series name going, rather than being firmly in the middle of this piece throughout. This novel keeps a dim spotlight on John Smith, while also spending time examining some of the indigenous ways of life, in which Tracy finds parallels to unite, rather than divide. The narrative flows well and the reader is treated to decent writing, something that lacks at times within this genre. Over the past ten years, the focus of thrillers has been to turn things on Muslim extremism and some of the evils that came from a post-9/11 world. While Tracy does hint at some of this throughout, there is less of a ‘beat the dead horse’ about good versus evil, which pleases me greatly. Smearing and using silly soapbox moments to colour an entire religion with a single brush gets old in the genre and I have read too many books where this hot button topic is used to sell manuscripts. 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 have almost caught 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: