Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Monkeewrench

Monkeewrench 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
Trigger Warnings: Violence, serial murder

Disclosure: I received this book, along with a whole box of books, from a coworker in 2004, as they were extras she didn’t want. All opinions are my own. This is my second reading of the book.

Synopsis: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective out in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they'll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased-and the horror they thought they'd left behind. If they don't, eighteen more people will die...

My Thoughts: Thanks to my coworker all those years ago, I was introduced to this excellent series (as well as another of my favorites, the Lucas Davenport mysteries by John Sandford, but that’s another review) and started buying the rest of them as they came out. There are currently six books available in this series, which I will reviewing in the coming days, with a seventh due out next year. I first read this book in 2004, but did not write a review at that time, so when it came time to read the latest books in the series I decided to start again at the beginning and write the reviews I neglected to write the first time around.

Over the years, while I remembered I had enjoyed the story, I had forgotten how mesmerizing it is. I was initially charmed because it is set in Minneapolis, a city in which I lived for 5 ½ years. This description from the book is really quite apt. “From her first day here Grace had pegged Minneapolis as a prissy city, an aspiring lady with her skirts held ankle-high to avoid the prairie mud. It had an underbelly, of course—the hookers and johns, the porn shops, the junior-high kids cruising for a hit of black tar or Ecstasy—but you really had to look to find it, and that it existed at all never failed to shock the stalwart Lutheran populace into action. It was one of the few cities in the country, Grace thought, where the self-righteous still thought you could shame the sleaze into redemption.” This is all especially impressive once you realize that this is the debut novel by the mother-daughter team that wrote this book.

The synopsis is not completely accurate, in that the Monkeewrench crew did not hesitate in the slightest to contact the police about the connection to the game. It was their own past they didn’t immediately discuss. I can’t say anything more than that to avoid spoilers, but inaccurate synopses drive me crazy, so I thought I’d point that out.

At any rate, this is really top-notch suspense fiction. If you enjoy mysteries and suspense, you will definitely want to check out P.J. Tracy’s wonderful Monkeewrench series, starting with this, the first book, Monkeewrench itself. Great characters, and you will never, ever see the denouement coming. Wonderful stuff.

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