Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Dead Run

Dead Run
Dead Run by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre, fans of the series
Trigger Warnings: Violence, terrorism

Disclosure: I purchased first the hardcover and later the e-book editions of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Computer game company founders Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky—along with Wisconsin deputy Sharon Mueller—are en route to Green Bay, following reports of a serial killer, when their car breaks down deep in the northern woods. A short walk through the forest leads them to the eerily quiet town of Four Corners, where they find severed phone lines and a complete absence of any life. But the quiet is deceptive. Before they know it, they witness a horrifying double murder—and discover that this is only the beginning of a race to save their own lives… and countless others.

My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Monkeewrench series, following Live Bait (review here where formatting allowed—there is a link in that review to the review of the first book). I first read it shortly after its release in 2006, but did not write a review for it at that time. After acquiring books five and six, subsequent to reading the first four, I decided to re-read the whole series before book seven comes out next year.

I do not know exactly how this happened, but somewhere between the hardcover edition I originally purchased, and this e-book edition, some pretty annoying typos were introduced. I have no idea what “haifa” is, but I’m pretty sure the places where I’ve noticed it should have said “half a.” I also am fairly sure that Harley did not make a habit of calling Grace “Grade”, but I’m much too lazy to track down the hardcover to verify that. There are a number of these sorts of ridiculous typos and mistakes in this e-book version, which is really odd, because I do not recall this being a problem in the original at all. Admittedly after this much time I might have just forgotten, but... I doubt that. Speaking of errors, in the synopsis is says they are racing to save their lives, and the lives of countless others. In fact, “countless” people were not being threatened—there was a very specific number mentioned.

This book has a segment that gives you a perfect look at who Grace is, deep down inside. She, Annie and Sharon are on trip, and this conversation takes place.
Sharon: “I thought all these fancy rides had GPS.”
“Grace wouldn’t hear of it,” Annie said. “Too Big Brother. They always know where you are with a GPS.”
Sharon cocked her head at Grace. “And who is ‘they’?”
Grace shrugged. “Could be anybody.”
This really gives the reader a good look at who Grace is. We had hints of it from the very beginning, of course. She always carries at least two weapons, always wears her English riding boots outside of her own house. Once you understand her background, you understand of course (it’s all explained in Monkeewrench), but she is an intensely paranoid young woman.

Now, I’ve been to Wisconsin, and I thought it was a beautiful state, especially the woods. It’s not heavily populated, but I grew up in Montana, which borders both North and South Dakota, and I think all three states together are about the same population as Wisconsin, so I didn’t really consider Wisconsin to be all that empty. But this conversation between Annie and Sharon really brought home to me how many people, used to more populous areas, might see the Wisconsin woods.
Annie: “This is absolutely the spookiest place I have ever been in my life. I never heard of anyone famous from Wisconsin, and now I know why. Nobody lives here.”
Sharon turned around... “Ed Gein was famous. He lived here.”
“Never heard of him.”
“He used to kill people, grind them up, and eat them.”
“Hmph. Well, apparently he ate them all.”
I’d have loved to have heard what Annie had to say about Montana, or North Dakota, or South Dakota for that matter, if she thinks backwoods Wisconsin is bad. Of course, as my mom used to say, at least in the prairie you can see them coming. Who is “them”? As Grace said: Could be [just about] anybody.

I’ve seen many critical reviews of this book complaining of sexism, which really confuses me. I simply do not see it. While it is true that the men all jump up to go “rescue” Annie, Sharon, and Grace, they all also admit to themselves that these women do not need to be rescued, and that they are able to take care of themselves. They are worried, so they do what men do: take action. There is no sexism at all at work here in my opinion—just people worried over their friends and wanting to help however they can, even as they realize said friends can take care of themselves in most situations.

This book is different from the first two, in that it is not a mystery, per se, but more a suspense thriller—and it is very, very suspenseful. At the moment the suspense broke, I literally had tears in my eyes and a goofy smile on my face, simultaneously. And this was the second time I’d read the book, so it was no surprise to me, but it is so skillfully done, and such a wonderful scene, that I could not help myself. If you like suspenseful thrillers, if you’ve enjoyed the series, then definitely read this great book. Next up: Snow Blind.

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