I started reading the Monkeewrench series by the mother/daughter team known as P.J. Tracy in 2003 before I started my reading blog. Since then, I've read everything the library has to offer. Shoot to Thrill is the fifth in the series.
The computer software team of Grace McBride, Fat Annie, Harley, and Roadrunner have used their skills to break the law in the past, but only in the interest of justice. This time the team is working with John Smith, an FBI agent on his last case, trying to discover who has committed five murders in different states and not only filmed the murders and posted them on the web, but advertised them in advance, giving a hint about the next victim and location.
When the next clue is posted, there is a chance of saving a life and possibly ending the killing spree--but the clues are vague and the setting can't even be narrowed down to a single state. One of the murders, however, is local, and Minneapolis detectives Margozzi and Rosbeth get involved.
I really like this series. Initially, the mother and daughter team of P.J. Tracy were publishing a book a year, but the last couple of novels in the series have been about 3-4 years apart. The next in the series is Off the Grid, and I checked it out as well and dived into it as soon as I finished Shoot to Kill.
Library copy. Penguin Group
Crime Fiction/Suspense. 2010. 308 pages.
Off the Grid
At the end of Shoot to Thrill, Grace McBride sails off with John Smith, the now retired FBI agent who has the same sense of "aloneness" that Grace does. They are friends, not lovers; but Leo Magozzi has been in love with Grace for a long time and is a tad upset. The journey is good for Grace, and she abandons some of her paranoid fear (Grace's paranoia has been in place since the first book in the series.) When, ten miles off the coast of Florida, two men board the sailboat and attempt to kill John Smith, Grace doesn't sink back into the same paranoia that has accompanied her throughout the series.
Although the reviews have been seriously mixed on this novel, I found it extremely interesting because, although the book was published in 2012, it focuses on a couple of things that are prominent in the news today.
First, there is a segment on the sex trade; kidnapping young women and selling them or forcing them into marriage. The Islamic State in Iraq, the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, the women from Russia and the Baltic states, and gangs in the U.S. have all been in the news recently for this horrific abuse.
Second, the recent calls for jihad that involve individuals spontaneously attacking police or service men, as in the recent attacks in Canada and New York, for example, and the tragic attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem. Murders carried out by individuals in response to a general call.
Third, the organized and well-planned terrorist actions that we all fear.
Fans of the series have given this book such disparate reviews--almost polar opposites--but I liked it a lot. There is a lot of violence and the complexity of (at least in my case) rooting for a vigilante. Rooting for a vigilante is always a tricky slope, but when battling evil, we all want the bad guys to disappear. In how many books and films do we cheer on the hero who kills the bad guys without benefit of trial and without compunction?
Such a conundrum. We want to believe in the legal system, but at least in our imaginations--in books or movies--we often condone vigilante violence. Even when we know the dangers and moral questions of this behavior.
OK, digression complete. The Monkeewrench books are also full of witty comments and apt descriptions about Minnesota weather. A few examples:
* "The sun was shining, but the sky was that scary dark blue that looked like a theater curtain hiding winter behind it."
* "This is bullshit, Leo, you know that? I had to scrape my windshield this morning. Nobody told me Armageddon on Ice was coming to a theater near me, and I've got a four-year-old bawling into his board shorts right now because he wanted to be a surfer dude for Halloween."* "...his hands were shaking like a Chihuahua in a snow bank."
Each book can stand on its own, but the series is much more fun if you begin with the first in the series. You can find a list here.
Library copy. Penguin Group.
Thriller/Suspense. 2012. 305 pages.