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Shoot to Thrill: A Monkeewrench Novel

Review

Shoot to Thrill: A Monkeewrench Novel

It has been four years since the hardcover release of SNOW
BLIND, from the mother-daughter team writing collectively known as
P.J. Tracy. Tracy has created an engaging and addicting series
featuring Monkeewrench, a quirky quartet of mismatched computer and
Internet geniuses. They work in tandem with two Minneapolis police
detectives: the equally odd-coupled Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth.
Monkeewrench appeared, but did not figure prominently, in SNOW
BLIND, which focused primarily on Magozzi and Rolseth. Thus, fans
of the series will rejoice at the publication of SHOOT TO THRILL,
in which Monkeewrench comes roaring back to a position of
prominence.

Tracy’s past work has been driven equally by plot and
character, and SHOOT TO THRILL is no exception, bringing the skill
sets of Monkeewrench and the Magozzi-Rolseth team together in a
chilling way. Someone is murdering people, recording the acts, and
putting the final moments of the victims on the Internet. But the
characters, both old and new, bring this work to an entirely new
level. The four members of Monkeewrench are unique enough to be
memorable yet familiar enough to be readily identifiable: Harley
Davidson, a biker/party animal; Roadrunner, who is obsessed with
exercise; Annie Belinsky, a traffic-stopper; and Grace McBride, the
glue that holds the group together, even as she herself is a
veritable raisin of anxiety. It is ironic that the team that both
creates software and hacks into databases is brought into the case
by the FBI, which seeks to use their expertise to catch the
murderers who are exhibiting their dastardly acts in
cyberspace.

John Smith is the FBI agent tasked with riding herd over
Monkeewrench. A quietly likable man who consists entirely of right
angles, Smith is on the cusp of retirement, marking the days when
he will leave the only job he knows. What begins as an uneasy
working relationship between him and Monkeewrench gradually evolves
into something better, and different. As for Magozzi and Rolseth,
they are brought in when a murder in their own backyard finds an
audience on the Web. The two partners are quite the odd couple,
leading very different lives. Rolseth is happily married and
quietly envied by the divorced Magozzi, who is possessed of an
unrequited love for the distant and closed-off McBride, a situation
that creates a fluctuating degree of tension.

Somehow the teams manage to work together, with Magozzi and
Rolseth chasing down a lead or clue in their newly acquired and
fully loaded Cadillac, and Monkeewrench taking the clue,
following it across the Internet and coming back with another
thread to follow. What occurs demonstrates that, while nothing will
replace a good old-fashioned shoe leather investigation, the wealth
of information available online is astounding as well as
frightening. SHOOT TO THRILL also poses a question of how much the
Internet contributes to the occurrence of crime, as individuals
seeking an audience but having no stage find a ready and willing
one in cyberspace. The result is a mesmerizing work informed with
humor and horror, one of those books that you will not only stay up
all night to finish but also recommend to fellow readers the
morning after.

Loyal fans of the Monkeewrench series will be
particularly surprised by a couple of events that occur during the
course of SHOOT TO THRILL, including one that indicates the
possibility of a dramatic change for the group. Let’s hope
that we don’t have to wait quite as long for the next volume
in a series whose readership has been increasing exponentially
since its inception.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Shoot to Thrill: A Monkeewrench Novel
by P.J. Tracy

  • Publication Date: April 29, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399155201
  • ISBN-13: 9780399155208