All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Monkeewrench – P.J. Tracy

on February 23, 2013

MonkeewrenchMonkeewrench (Monkeewrench #1)
P.J. Tracy
Signet (Penguin Group)
2003, 404p
Read from my local library

The murder of an elderly and overly pious couple in Wisconsin has the local Sheriff’s baffled at first. In Minneapolis, a jogger is murdered and then a young woman, who is found draped over an angel statue.

Grace MacBride and the rest of her eccentric group of friends read about the jogger and young woman with growing horror. Those two murders perfectly mimic the first two scenarios in a game that their software company, Monkeewrench, is creating. Usually Monkeewrench creates educational software and games, but they’re branching out, creating a game named Serial Killer Detective which allows the player to solve a number of murders by gathering the clues from crime scene photos. The staged crime scene photos for their game have been perfectly recreated by a real life killer.

Despite the risks, Grace and the gang take their information to the police. They know that if the police don’t catch the killer, well, there are some 20 murder scenarios in the game so a lot of people are at risk, especially given that one of the murders occurs at the Mall of America. Of course they are opening themselves up to suspicion as suspects too, despite the fact that hundreds of people have been able to access the test version of the game that they uploaded to the internet. Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are at odds. Magozzi doesn’t believe that MacBride could be the killer despite the strange things that are coming to light about her and her Monkeewrench cohorts. Roseth thinks that Magozzi is thinking with another part of his anatomy and that Grace looks as good as any suspect for murder that he’s ever seen.

With eighteen more people scheduled to die, Monkeewrench will have to bury their distrust and dislike of cops and the police will have to take a leap of faith that they’re not consulting with killers. They’ll have to try and work together before the bloodshed escalates.

Recently I read the sixth novel in this series, Two Evils without realising until after I started it that it was a series book. I did finish it and enjoy it but there was a lot of information that I’d missed, also a lot of the relationship subtleties were lost on me. So I decided to go back to the beginning of the series and catch up, using my local library to hunt down the first book.

It was a good choice, because this novel gives the background of Grace MacBride and the rest of the Monkeewrench crew, including what happened to them years ago and why they live the way they do. In Two Evils, you know that Grace has been afraid for a very long time, the way in which she lives with her heightened security and rituals is second nature to her, but I didn’t know why she lived like that. This book explained pretty much everything and I definitely understand Grace a little more now, although I do think I’m going to need the next 4 books to really have any feelings toward her. She’s very remote and cold and she’s a hard person to get an idea of. I do like the rest of Monkeewrench, especially Annie. She seems like an awful lot of fun.

As far as the crime aspect of the plot in this one goes, I thought it was excellent. The opening was fabulous, with the murder of a couple in their 70’s in rural Wisconsin. The more the local police force dig into their backgrounds after their deaths, the more things start looking odd. That combined with the Minneapolis police digging into the murders on their patch of the jogger and the young girl draped over the statue, combined with the looking into of Monkeewrench, allows the reader to sort of play along themselves, almost like they’re playing the Serial Killer Detective game, but with a book rather than a computer. The clues are there for the reader to put them together (although having read Two Evils, that did give me a bit of an advantage as one person who is in this novel isn’t in that one, although they didn’t exactly turn out to be who/what I expected either, so I liked that). There were a few little niggles and coincidences but it’s rare to find a crime novel without something like that. I still really liked this book and I really enjoy Leo Magozzi as a character. I look forward to reading the next few books and seeing what develops between him and Grace.

8/10

Book #43 of 2013

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