Live Bait by P.J. Tracy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre and series
Trigger Warnings: Violence, murder, hate crimes
Disclosure: I purchased first a hardcover and later an e-book version of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are bored–-ever since they solved the Monkeewrench case, the Twin Cities have been in a murder-free dry spell, as people no longer seem interested in killing one another. But with two brutal homicides taking place in one awful night, the crime drought ends-–not with a trickle, but with an eventual torrent. Who would kill Morey Gilbert, a man without an enemy, a man who might as well have been a saint? His tiny, cranky little wife, Lily, is no help, and may even be a suspect; his estranged son, Jack, an infamous ambulance-chasing lawyer, has his own enemies; and his son-in-law, former cop Marty Pullman, is so depressed over his wife's death a year ago that he's ready to kill himself, but not Morey. The number of victims—all elderly—grows, and the city is fearful once again. The detectives' investigation threatens to uncover a series of horrendous secrets, some buried within the heart of the police department itself, blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Grace MacBride's cold-case-solving software may find the missing link—but at a terrible price.
My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Monkeewrench series, following Monkeewrench (review here where formatting allowed). I first read this second book in the series soon after it came out in 2005, but didn’t review it at the time. Since I have, subsequently to reading the first four, acquired books 5 and 6, I decided to re-read the whole series at a go before book 7 comes out next year, and actually do reviews for all of them this time (I believe I have an old review for Snow Blind out there, which I will share when I do the next one).
One thing of the very few things that bothers me in this book (and series) is the authors’ constant focus on the weight of a couple of the characters. Admittedly, Annie and Gloria are also described as sensual and sexy, with men always tripping over themselves to gain their attention, but neither woman can be mentioned without the additional mention of how heavy she is, like this is terribly important to keep rubbing in the readers’ faces. But that’s just a personal issue, I imagine. The only other thing I have to complain about with this book is the occasional head-hopping that will occur out of the blue. Fortunately, it’s generally only a paragraph and then the narration will return to the regular style used through the book.
None of that is enough to make me change my original assessment of this, given many years ago, as a five-star book. Let me tell you why. One of the truly outstanding things about this series is that the storylines, the ideas presented, they all make you think. Consider this line by Lily, wife of Morey, whose daughter was also murdered.
“You men. You always want to know who did this or that terrible thing, so someone can find them and make them pay. Always it’s been like this for men, the eye for the eye, as if it would make any difference.”I mean, really think about that, about what that implies, about what that means. It’s wonderful. There are things like this in every single book in this series, something really profound that will make you question your motivations, make you question your beliefs. I love that—I love that they don’t allow you to escape by using easy answers; they insist that you question your beliefs, that you really take a good, hard look at your basic assumptions and then ask, “Is that really who I am? Is that really how I feel? And is that really right?” Not to mention that the authors are wonderful about hiding the villain until they are good and ready to reveal whodunit. That makes these among some of the best mysteries I’ve read since Agatha Christie.
So, despite any minor annoyances, these books are right up there with the best of the best, and I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a great mystery/suspense/thriller. Definitely check them out. Next up: Dead Run.
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