The Guilty Dead (Monkeewrench #9), by P. J. Tracy

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to P.J. Tracy and Crooked Lane Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

A much different P.J. Tracy continues to evolve in the series after the death of the elder in the mother-daughter duo. Those who are familiar with the series will notice a higher intensity to the writing and a plot that seeks to delve deeper into the mystery and police procedural genres. After the death of his son a year ago, socialite Gregory Norwood plans to honour him with a private memorial. However, before this takes place, the elder Norwood is found at his home, an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This sends shock waves through the city and travels all the way to the top of the MPD pyramid, after current gubernatorial candidate—and best friend of Norwood—Robert Zeller, requests it be handled with discretion. Enter Homicide Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth, who survey the crime scene at the request of their chief, only to discover something out of place that tips the scales towards murder. Meanwhile, Monkeewrench are approached by a member of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, hoping that they can create a specialised piece of software. It would seem that there have been murmurs of an attack within the Twin Cities, but nothing is surfacing with the usual suspects. The FBI has begun to wonder if those no longer on the radar might be developing new and covert means of communication through electronic channels, both legal and on the Dark Net. Members of the team rush to create something and run beta tests, unsure how long they might have before an attack. With the Norwoods mourning two loses in as many years and Minneapolis as a potential hotspot for the next big act of terror, Magozzi and Grace MacBride surely have no time to focus on the imminent arrival of their child. All that being said, babies follow no timetable or schedule, save their own. Tracy provides readers with a stellar exploration of terrorism, politics, and the ties that can bind a family together or tear it apart. A powerful new novel, which series fans will enjoy, even if it is with a heavy heart for the loss of part of this fantastic writing duo.

I am sad to say that I have reached the end of my summer reading binge of P.J. Tracy’s work. I must also offer my sincere condolences that the writing world lost a great member with the death of one half of the P.J. Tracy duo. The series has been well-crafted and thoroughly enjoyable, both in writing and audio formats, which helps solidify my admiration for the authors and books in this collection. This novel is again able to mix great mystery with strong characters and deliver a grounded story, one in which the reader will notice new depth and strong story development. The Magozzi/Rolseth banter remains strong, as always, as does the humour that offsets some of the more serious and morbid parts of the narrative. Tracy offers some interesting character development for Magozzi and Grace MacBride, both individually and as a unit, with impending parenthood. How this will change their lives and the characterisation of them has yet to be seen, but one can only hope that a tenth novel will answer some of the questions series fans will surely have on the tips of their proverbial tongues. The rest of the gang (both police and Monkeewrench) continue to dazzle and keep the reader on their toes for a variety of reasons. I was pleased to see a strong narrative and a few plots that developed throughout, keeping the reader guessing as to what might happen at any turn of the page. Using a constantly revolving group of characters, Tracy is able to push the narrative forward in interesting ways and never forces the reader to accept subpar writing or storytelling. I must wonder if the Magozzi/Rolseth storyline will change when they are both fathers and if, perhaps, Tracy will give readers a Rolseth-centred storyline (perhaps involving his family), which might help develop a stronger tie to those people who come up in Gino’s dialogue on occasion. These novels move away from the traditional police procedural and permit P.J. Tracy to entertain the reader with strong storylines, perfect for a vacation or summer binge. As noted above, there was a significant shift in the writing and story presentation, likely the influence of the solo writing that will continue going forward. Might the series take a heavier turn or will the lighter reads resume in subsequent publication?

Kudos, P.J. Tracy, for another wonderful piece. You continue to show how proud your mother can be in your efforts by keeping the story going. Write and think of her, always!

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