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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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Nothing Stays Buried (Monkeewrench #8), by P. J. Tracy

Eight stars

A different P.J. Tracy emerges in this piece, primarily because one of the duo has passed on, leaving the legacy on the shoulders of the younger. It was also the first ‘book’ in the series I read, the others having been of the audio variety. After the daughter of a farmer goes missing, the local sheriff calls in a favour from Monkeewrench to help piece this all together. Grace MacBride, well into her pregnancy, is happy to oblige and the team makes their way into rural Minnesota to assist. One interesting clue found close to the scene is blood traced back to a member of a Mexican drug cartel. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Detective Leo Magozzi is pondering his recent move to the country and the fact that he will soon be a father. Alongside his partner, Gino Rolseth, they banter about anything that comes to mind, at least until a call comes in. It’s a body, slashed and dumped, but there’s also a playing card tucked inside the clothing. Could it be the killer that the MPD Homicide team has been hunting; a serial killer perhaps? When more bodies emerge, each with another playing card, Magozzi and Rolseth are baffled as to how they will solve this case. When the FBI sweeps in to take control of the case, both detectives are confused by the federal presence and unwilling to simply walk away. Meanwhile, Monkeewrench has been running some searches for Magozzi and found a few pieces of information that might tie-in to the case they have been working. Could the two be connected? With a story that moves from Minneapolis to a farming community, no one is safe with a killer on the loose and another one prowling the woods! Tracy, in whatever incarnation, is truly captivating in yet another novel and keeps the reader glued to the page well into the night. Recommended for series fans who love what they have read and are ready for a slightly different flavour in this piece.

I continue my summer reading binge of P.J. Tracy’s work, having been forced to pick up a book for the first time with this series. In their written form, the stories have not lost their momentum, even while I am forced to create accents and banter dialogue in my mind. This proves that Tracy’s work can transcend the audio medium and still come to life on the page. This novel is again able to mix great mystery with strong characters and deliver a knockout punch. The Magozzi/Rolseth banter remains strong and offsets some of the more gruesome aspects of the narrative. Of great interest in the realm of characters is how Magozzi and MacBride are each handling the pending parenthood that is surely just around the corner. Tracy offers the reader glimpses into both their psyches and permits some self-reflection on how things will change in the coming months (book or two?). I am eager to see this change in the next book, presuming there will be a birth before too long. 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 an interesting two-pronged story that neither dragged nor jumped without offering substantial progress. While P.J. Tracy commonly offers two cases, the reader is rarely left feeling unfulfilled during the gaze into the case’s progress. 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. 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. With one novel left (at this point) to read, I am beginning to face the reality that the binge is almost done, but I want more. Truly a sign of powerful writing!

Kudos, P.J. Tracy, for another wonderful piece. You have done your mother proud by keeping the story going. Write and think of her, always!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Sixth Idea (Monkeewrench #7), by P.J. Tracy

Eight stars

In yet another thrilling novel, P.J. Tracy impresses readers with a well-grounded novel of mystery and suspense. Homicide Detectives Magozzi and Rolseth are enjoying some much needed time off, when a call comes in that a man has been found in his home, shot in the head. After rushing to the scene and beginning their investigation, a second call comes about a man who was killed outside a local hotel. A little digging shows that these two men had been exchanging emails and were planning to meet the following day. Could the murders be related, or simply a very odd coincidence? Soon, a woman comes forward, having seen the news about the murders. Lydia Ascher reports that not only was she on a flight from L.A. to Minneapolis with one of the victims, but they share an odd connection from sixty years in the past. Magozzi and Rolseth begin exploring this and learn that one victim had a website ‘The Sixth Idea’, which has since been removed from the World Wide Web. Enter, Monkeewrench and their tech skills to help with the investigation. What they discover only adds to the confusion and opens new pathways in the case. More murders bring Magozzi and Rolseth running, but the victims are not who they might predict… which only makes things more confusing and the case further from resolution. P.J. Tracy offers up another stunning piece that will keep readers devouring the novel well into the night, begging for more Monkeewrench. Recommended to series fans and those who love a good thriller without all the hype of the big city lights.

I continue to thoroughly enjoy my summer reading binge of P.J. Tracy’s work! The stories have not lost their momentum and Tracy is able to mix great mystery alongside wonderful characters to come up with the ideal formula for a hit. Magozzi and Rolseth dazzle throughout this series, including this seventh novel. Their banter, perhaps the thing I enjoy the most, is always sharp and on point, keeping me laughing between trying to piece together what’s going on in the larger mystery. Magozzi’s love affair with MacBride seems finally to be grounding itself, though there is still an interesting push-pull between the two. Rolseth has his own moments, though there is little new to offer up at this point, save one glaring issue. The entire Monkeewrench crew is present, using their tech-savvy skills to crack yet another case wide open. As with the other novels in the series, the narrative flows well, giving the reader a wonderful gift of great reading, which is sometimes lost in this genre. I did enjoy the six decade span of this novel and how things that started so long ago could return to being poignant, yet with its own new flair. On the topic of time passing in the novel, I found an anomaly worth mentioning. I have come to notice that Rolseth’s children never appear to age, at least based on mention of them in the narrative. ‘Ever youthful’ one might say, but the narrative clearly show a progression in time over these six novels (particularly when one character remembers having known Magozzi for a decade, when they first met on the original Monkeewrench case), while the Rolseth second generation remain five and close to sixteen. Not a major issue, but surely one that remains on my radar as I look ahead to the coming two novels. 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. I am eager to keep racing through these books and have only a few left. I can see the crash coming after such a great binge.

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Snow Blind (Monkeewrench #4), by P.J. Tracy

Eight stars

P.J. Tracy continues to pull me in with this fourth novel in the series, set during a cold snap that makes me remember my childhood. In the middle of the coldest part of winter, Homicide Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are preparing for the Minneapolis PD’s snowman festival. However, as they examine some of the other entries, it becomes apparent that there are two bodies within other snowmen. These bodies are soon identified as fellow MPD officers, making it apparent that there is a killer on the loose and children will likely never want to see another Frosty-type image. As they begin their investigation, they cannot guess how many other bodies there might be hiding in plain sight or who might be the next victim. In a rural Minnesota county, Iris Rikker is ready to begin her first day as sheriff, having won a contentious election to unseat her longtime predecessor. As she is trying to get acclimated, a snowman body is found and she’s forced to start her new job on the wrong foot. The victim is a parole officer and it would appear that parolee Kurt Weinbeck took offence to something, having left him frozen solid and surrounded by snow. Magozzi and Rolseth see the similarities and make their way out to see Rikker, who soon learns that there is more to the story. Weinbeck is on the hunt for his ex-wife, Julie Albright, who is in hiding after being an abuse victim for too long. The MPD Detectives agree to tag along during a visit to Albright, to check on her welfare with Weinbeck on the lam and a potential killer. Locating Albright in Bitterroot, Rolseth is anything but pleased about the community, which offers a unique style of protection. Magozzi seems more accepting, but no matter how protection is offered, Weinbeck is on the loose and must be stopped. Back in Minneapolis, members of Monkeewrench discover someone’s been bragging about the snowman killings in a chat room, hours before the bodies were discovered. Might the killer be found through technological means and could this narrow the future victim pool? Tracy offers up another wonderful thriller that is sure to pique the interest of the series fan and those who love quick police procedurals with a difference.

I simply cannot say enough about P.J. Tracy’s work as I binge my way through this series! The stories reel me in each and every time and these characters continue to evolve, with new ones introduced in each book. Magozzi and Rolseth are back in the driver’s seat, using their banter and sleuthing skills to keep the reader keen on what they will find. Introducing the Sheriff Iris Rikker storyline is not only useful, but plays right into the larger theme of the novel, which can only do good things, should she reappear in future novels. As always, the Monkeewrench crew is present, though they seem to sit in the background for much of the story, popping up only when their usefulness adds depth to the plot. Secondary characters do, as always, offer some interesting flavours, and Tracy is able to effectively utilise them to push home a key point needed to better tell the story. The narrative flows well and the reader is treated to some superior writing that is not always found within the genre, while also staying grounded. 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 to see what other mysteries come up in the numerous cases that follow.

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Dead Run (Monkeewrench #3), by P.J. Tracy

Eight stars

Continuing with the work of P.J. Tracy, I ventured into the third novel of the Monkeewrench series, which spins things a little and provides the reader with a new approach. Sheriff Michael Halloran is keeping an eye on his rural Wisconsin county when three bodies are pulled from the water, degraded enough that they cannot be easily identified. Might there be another killer on the loose or could someone be using this as a dumping ground? Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, FBI profiler—and former sheriff’s deputy to Halloran—Sharon Mueller has been called to Green Bay to assist with the hunt for a potential serial killer. She reaches out to Monkeewrench co-founders, Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky, to come along for the ride, where they might be able to use some of their new top-notch software to assist with the case. During the drive to Green Bay, they run into vehicle trouble, conveniently out of cellphone range. Walking the short distance to the closest town, MacBride and the others come upon Four Corners, apparently devoid of people and with its telephones wires severed. As they press onwards, all three women witness of double murder at the hands of an apparent militia, which only further concerns them. What’s going on in Four Corners and who are these camouflaged men? When Grace fails to check in on time, Minneapolis Homicide Detection Leo Magozzi gets worried, which is only expounded when the male half of Monkeewrench pile on their own concern. A call from Halloran sends a male contingent to Wisconsin, both to investigate the three aforementioned bodies and to search for the others, who have fallen off the radar without a trace. Facing additional danger, Four Corners could be the last place Grace and her group ever see, unless they can neutralise whatever’s turned this community into a barren wasteland. P.J. Tracy continues to impress with this series, turning the focus to the female characters of the series. Those who have enjoyed the first two books will surely find something here to keep their attention. New fans can still get hooked, though it is recommended they start with the opening novel, if only to preserve character development.

I’m bingeing P.J. Tracy’s work, which began with the chilling Monkeewrench. The plots have been engrossing and I cannot say enough about these characters, many of whom continue to evolve. Magozzi and Rolseth take a backseat in this one, allowing the reader to learn much more about Grace MacBride and her ‘sisters in crime’. MacBride has evolved from the head of Monkeewrench and an almost-victim into a well-rounded crime fighter whose instincts keep her one step ahead of those seeking to silence her for good. The reader is able to learn a little more about her and the sentiments she has for Leo Magozzi, though much of the time it is her emotional stability in the face of danger that makes waves. Annie Belinsky does receive some character development as well, though she parallels Gino Rolseth in this piece as she provides much needed banter to keep the story from getting too serious. While there are a handful of key secondary characters, all of whom fit nicely into the story, it is the ‘protagonist rotation’ that kept me most intrigued. Tracy is able to seamlessly move away from the Magozzi-Rolseth focus and push it onto the others, which offers new angles and glimpses at those the reader knows well from the past two novels. Injecting some old faces from the series debut is sure to give the reader the sentiment that there will often be a Minneapolis-Wisconsin connection and offers up some great geographic options to place the subsequent novels. The narrative kept the story feeling fresh and evolving without getting too far-fetched. 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 to see what other mysteries come up in the numerous cases that follow.

Kudos, P.J. Tracy, for another wonderful piece. I am so happy to have found this series and hope the rest of the series is as entertaining!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Live Bait (Monkeewrench #2), by P.J. Tracy

Eight starsReturning to the second novel in the Monkeewrench series, I am eager to see what P.J. Tracy has in store for readers after an explosive debut. With the Monkeewrench killings complete, Minneapolis Homicide Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are in a lull. There have been no murders over the past months, leaving them happy to be able to relax and enjoy the weather. However, when a call comes in that an elderly man has been found outside his greenhouse, shot in the head, Magozzi and Rolseth make their way to the scene. Unnerved because the man’s wife has moved and cleaned the body, the detectives are sure they’ll have to try even harder to piece things together. However, Morey Gilbert seems to have been a model citizen; loved by many and respected by all. Who would want to kill such a wonderful man? At the same time, another elderly man is found tied to the train tracks with barbed wire, shot as well. Things have surely grown intense for Magozzi and Rolseth in short order, forcing them to sharpen their skills once again. When other elderly citizens turn up with similar gunshot wounds, the detectives are both baffled and worried about a spree killer. It would seem that Gilbert knew the other victims, tied together by the community of residence and a similar history. When Gilbert’s estranged son—an ambulance chasing, alcoholic lawyer—and son-in-law—a former Minneapolis cop—turn up, things get a little more interesting, though nothing could stop the news that some of the forensics has peeked the interest of INTERPOL. Magozzi cannot determine how to track down the killer or what motive might include this set of victims. Grace McBride, one of the founders of Monkeewrench Gaming has been working on a new forensic program that can synthesize minute facts in the blink of an eye. While she and Magozzi play their cat and mouse game of love, the system may have a lead that no one thought to explore beforehand, pulling McBride into the middle of the case as well. There’s still a killer on the loose and international police forces knocking on the door of Minneapolis Homicide, forcing Magozzi and Rolseth to double down. P.J. Tracy has crafted another stellar novel here and shows that the debut was no fluke. Recommended for those who loved the first novel and readers who enjoy a ‘smaller town’ police procedural.New to P.J. Tracy’s work, I devoured Monkeewrench and am happy that I have made this series my summer binge. I am hooked by the story and characters, hoping they will continue to evolve. Magozzi and Rolseth return as superior protagonists, working well in a professional capacity while remaining intuitive throughout this baffling case. Their banter is great, sometimes buried in story dialogue, forcing the reader to follow closely so as not to miss anything. This keeps the story moving well and helps flesh out the backstories for all characters, particularly these two detectives. Other characters help develop a stronger narrative and add depth in a fast-paced story. The story moves well, constructed around both criminal and historical matters that should hook the reader from the early stages. The narrative propelled the story forward and the well-crafted characters keep the reader committed from the early chapters. P.J. Tracy, the amalgamation of a mother-daughter writing team, is a great addition to the genre and I am eager to keep racing through these books to see what other mysteries come up in the numerous cases that followKudos, P.J. Tracy, for a second novel worthy of more literary awards. I am happy I have secured the entire series to date and can binge the summer—or at least a few weeks—away!A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Monkeewrench (Monkeewrench #1), by P.J. Tracy

Eight starsAfter a long waiting period, I was nudged in the direction of this series, promised that it would be full of both excitement and strong writing. I was not disappointed and think I may have found a binge-worthy series to begin the summer months. The murder of an older couple as they pray in church has Wisconsin authorities baffled, with few leads and a police force scratching their heads. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth have a new case that has the entire Homicide Squad baffled as well. When a young woman turns up murdered in a local cemetery, Magozzi and Rolseth can only wonder if a sick killer is on the loose. Enter five computer game creators, part of Monkeewrench, a gaming company. They reveal that two recent Minneapolis murders are identical to ones in a game they are about to send onto the market, right down to the smallest detail. The detectives learn that while the game has twenty odd murder scenes, those who have purchased the beta version have not been able to make it past the seventh killing. All eyes turn to the Monkeewrench folk as potential suspects, forcing Magozzi and Rolseth to split their time between investigating them and trying to prevent the next murder. After another victim is found, perfectly matching the game’s layout, it becomes apparent that someone is playing a sadistic game and it must be stopped. Armed with their gut and intuition, Magozzi and Rolseth dig deeper into these five Monkeewrench folks, while also trying to parse through the list of those who have access to the game, in hopes of turning up a strong lead. Back in Wisconsin, the investigation into the two slain parishioners takes an interesting twist and points to a church and boarding school in upstate New York. When Magozzi places a call to the same Mother Superior, begging for information about computer use, the two cases seemed tied together, though without any apparent similarities. Could the cases converge at this point, with a killer’s spree crossing state lines? P.J. Tracy proves a masterful writer in this debut thriller, sure to keep me guessing throughout series. I have a goal and the high quality of this series will help me reach it. Highly recommended to those who love a great police procedural/thriller outside the ‘big city’ feel of most American-based novels in the genre.While I had heard of P.J. Tracy and the Monkeewrench series before, I never had the inclination to start reading them. However, a curious publisher seeking my input on the yet to be released ninth novel and a few Goodreads friends who have been pushing through the novels in the middle of the series left me very curious. I am happy that I took the time to start, as I am hooked and need more very soon. Magozzi and Rolseth are wonderful protagonists in this opening novel, working well in a professional capacity while remaining intuitive. Their banter keeps the story moving well and the backstories offered give the reader a better connection to these men, sure to be the centre of future investigations. Other characters prove interesting, particularly those related to Monkeewrench, with their tragic pasts that have come to the surface once again. The Wisconsin storyline proved very interesting and while I was sure it would play into the central story early on, its reemergence allowed for more in-depth exploration of the facts pertaining to that case. The story moves well, constructed around some strong criminal matters and detailed exploration of medical phenomena. The narrative propelled the story forward and the well-crafted characters left the reader fully involved from the opening pages. Tracy, the amalgamation of a mother-daughter writing team, is surely a force to be reckoned with in the genre and I am eager to delve deeper to see what other mysteries come up in the numerous other cases.Kudos, P.J. Tracy, for a debut worthy of the literary awards you’ve won. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next novel and binge the summer away!A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons