Friday, November 18, 2011
Friday's Forgotten Books: MONKEEWRENCH by P.J. Tracy
Forgotten Book Friday is upon us once again. Don't forget to check in at Patti Abbot's blog, PATTINASE to see what other forgotten books other bloggers are talking about today.
MONKEEWRENCH (2003) was the splashy debut novel of the mother/daughter writing team, P.J. Lambrecht and Traci Lambrecht, writing as P.J. Tracy.
It is still one of the best thrillers you may not have read. (Not to mention, one of the great dust jacket designs as well.) Any time I ask around about the Monkeewrench series, I get blank looks. Strange really, because great things were expected after this debut which everyone was buzzing about once upon a time.
The possibility is that none of the books in the rest of the series matches up to the wonderfulness of the MONKEEWRENCH debut, but that's not saying the books aren't each intriguing in their own right. Having read them all, I'd say this is a remarkably good series of thrillers. Begin at the beginning and see what you think.
(The latest book, SHOOT TO THRILL (2009) shows that P.J. Tracy haven't lost their way. I wish, though, that they'd write just a little more quickly.)
Monkeewrench is a Minneapolis software company created and run by a bunch of brilliant, quirkier-than-most computer geeks, headed by the beautiful and oddly vulnerable Grace McBride.
McBride is a believer in basic black, in clothing, footwear and automobile - she drives a Range Rover and wears knee high black leather boots as her daily fashion statement.
Haunted by horrific events in her past, McBride lives alone, with dog, in a house equipped with the very latest electronic security wizardry. She packs a gun even while sipping coffee in her little fenced in yard. To say that she is not a trusting soul would not be an exaggeration.
In fact, each of the Monkeewrench crew has their own peculiar particulars, some hilarious, some less so. It's a great group of eccentrics who, oh by the way, are also millionaires from the fruits of their computer game labors.
When a particularly dreadful murder occurs, then another and another, it becomes clear that someone is using the latest Monkeewrench game as a model. The problem is that the game is not yet on the market. Nevertheless, the killing spree continues. The game is one in which the killer is always caught and punished, but the reality may turn out quite differently.
The case is assigned to two Minneapolis police detectives, Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolsteth, a wise-cracking duo of experienced murder hands. Much of the humor in this debut thriller comes from the hard-nosed chatter of these two likable cops as they ago about the business of trying to catch a bizarre killer whose motives remain unknown.
The police investigation eventually leads to a computer game outfit run by misfits. Magozzi and Rolsteth are at first bemused then suspicious of the Monkeewrench crew whose new game appears to be the killer's modus operandi. Magozzi is especially enthralled by the enigmatic Grace McBride.
The Monkeewrench crew and the cops must race against time to catch a killer who may be hiding in plain sight.
MONKEEWRENCH is an often funny, occasionally heartbreaking, always intriguing look at an area of the map we may not be familiar with - Minneapolis, Minnesota - peopled with an unforgettable cast of characters whose quirks will make perfect sense once you get caught up in their world.
To see a list and brief synopsis of each Monkeewrench book, please use this link.