February 22, 2011
Shoot to Thrill
Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy
2010 G. P. Putnam Sons
Finished on 2/10/11
Rating: 4.5 (Terrific!)
It's eighty-five degrees in the shade when Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth pull into the MPD parking garage. They're driving a tricked-out Caddy, repossessed from a low-level drug dealer. It's not a Beemer or a Mercedes, but it's got GPS, air conditioning, and electric seats with more positions than the Kama Sutra.
But things are heating up inside the station house, too. The bomb squad's off to investigate another suspicious package at the mall, and kids are beating the crap out of each other and posting it on YouTube. And before Leo and Gino can wish for a straight-on homicide, the call comes in: a floater.
Soon they're humping it along a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, beyond the green places where families picnic and admire the views. They can see her-she looks like a bride in her white formal gown-face down, dead in the water. And so it begins.
Across town, Grace McBride's Monkeewrench crew-the computer geeks who made a fortune on games, now helping the cops with anticrime software-has been recruited by the FBI to investigate a series of murder videos posted on the Web. It's not long before Rolseth, Magozzi, and Monkeewrench discover the frightening link between the unlucky bride and the latest, most horrific use of the Internet yet. Using their skills to scour the Net in search of the perpetrator, the team must race against the clock to stop a killer in his tracks.
P.J. Tracy is the pseudonym of the mother-daughter writing team of Patricia Lambrecht and Traci Lambrecht. Winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe and Minnesota Book Awards, they each live in rural Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis.
I’ve read all five books in the Monkeewrench series and while this wasn’t nearly as intense as Dead Run, it’s probably my favorite. The suspenseful plot kept me reading far too late into the night and I wound up having a couple of dreams revolving around the characters. I wouldn’t exactly say they were nightmares, but I did awaken with a feeling of unease. I love the witty banter between Gino & Leo, the camaraderie between the Monkeewrench crew, and in this particular book, the introduction to FBI Special Agent John Smith.
I read mysteries and thrillers purely for the entertainment factor, but every so often I’m taken aback by some surprisingly beautiful writing. I’ve come to expect it with Dennis Lehane, but I was pleasantly surprised to read the following by this mother-daughter writing duo:
How strange, then, that after so many near-misses, well into the second half of his time on earth, he was learning to excel at life—the one thing he’d never really aspired to.
Once a year for all the years he’d been with the Bureau, he’d taken the boat south to the Keys; sometimes all the way to the Caribbean. For two weeks he’d dance the boat through the waters that had too many colors to claim one, watched sun and moon and ocean mingle like a trio of lovers, and felt his mind slow down and finally bob and drift like a piece of flotsam on the swells. He’d stop at any port where he liked to mingle with strange and interesting people who didn’t know him, which gave him license to laugh and joke and be someone else. He ate bar food on rickety piers while his bare feet swung over the water, and sometimes drank with women whose names he couldn’t remember. Two weeks a year. Less than eight percent of his adult life.
He closed his eyes and smelled salt, heard the ticking of the rigging against the mast and the ruffle of heavy cloth in the breeze, and then felt the wind lift his hair for the first time in years. He hadn’t had it cut for three weeks now, an all-time record. Maybe he’d let it grow long like Harley’s and wear it in a ponytail, just another gray-haired man reverting to the wild.
There’s actually a bit more to this passage, but to include the subsequent paragraphs would only spoil the story for those of you who haven’t yet read the book.
I’m quite a stickler when it comes to reading a series in the order of publication, but in this case it’s safe to say that one could easily pick up Shoot to Thrill and not feel lost in the back-story details (or for that matter, discover any spoilers pertaining to the previous works). This is quite an entertaining series and my only complaint is that it took four years to publish this most recent installment. I was very satisfied with the ending and, once again, I’m anxious for the next release. I certainly hope we see more of John Smith.