The Guilty Dead by P.J. Tracy
2018 Crooked Lane
Finished on April 12, 2019
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Dead men tell no tales…but their pasts can’t keep a secret.
Gregory Norwood is Minnesota’s most beloved philanthropist, and the story of his son’s overdose was splashed across the front page of all the papers. When a photojournalist sets out to get a candid shot of the highly successful businessman on the one year anniversary of his son’s death, he’s shocked to find Norwood dead with a smoking gun in his hand.
The city is devastated, and Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called in to handle the delicate case. It should be open and shut, but something is not right. Norwood's death is no suicide.
With no suspects and an increasing tangle of digital evidence that confounds the Minneapolis Police Department’s most seasoned cops, Magozzi calls on Grace MacBride, Monkeewrench Software’s founder and chief computer genius and the soon to be mother of their child together. She and her motley crew of partners begin to unravel connections between Norwood’s death and an even larger plot. Norwood wasn’t the first, won’t be the last, and by the end, may be just one of many to die.
The breakneck, high stakes race to find his killer and save the lives of hundreds make P. J. Tracy's The Guilty Dead her most outstanding novel yet.
I first encountered this mother-daughter writing duo in 2003 (pre-blogging days), rapidly devouring the first three mysteries of their Monkeewrench series as quickly as they were published. I've since written about Snow Blind, Shoot to Thrill and Off the Grid, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. When The Sixth Idea was released, I eagerly snatched a copy at my library and dove in as soon as I got home. I know there are many series in which one or two books fall short of their predecessors, but The Sixth Idea was a terrible disappointment. I've since learned that Patricia (Traci's mother) passed away in 2016 and was afraid this wonderful series would lose its magic. When I spotted The Guilty Dead on the New Release shelf at the library, I decided to give it a chance, thinking maybe the lackluster storyline of The Sixth Idea was simply an anomaly.
As with most of the books in this series, the mystery wasn't too terribly complicated or convoluted. There were a couple of clues, early on, that I picked up on and was able to figure out a few details about the case well before the detectives did. But as the case progressed and new evidence was revealed, Leo had that "ah ha!" moment of clarity, which not only helped with solving the case, but kicked the tension up several notches.
There were times when cases were solved slowly and methodically, with little fanfare; other times evidence and information coalesced into a burst of sudden revelation; but this was the first time in Magozzi's career that a slow-motion movie of the past twenty-four hours stuttered through his mind in blinding clarity until it reached a horrifying, impossible conclusion.The Guilty Dead has redeemed my faith in this series and I'm anxious to go back and read Nothing Stays Buried (#8), which I somehow missed. Or maybe I prejudged it after my disappointment with The Sixth Idea. Who knows. I'm just happy that this latest release was entertaining and held my interest. It was fun to learn about some new events in the Monkeewrench team's lives and while it may not be quite as good as the earlier installments in the series, I'm back on board and look forward to the next release, Ice Cold Heart, which is due out in September.
Click on book titles to read my earlier reviews.