Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

There are currently 4 books in this series, Monkeewrench, Live Bait, Dead Run, and Snow Blind. They are mostly set in Minneapolis, alternating somewhat between the Monkeewrench crew, who are incredibly talented computer geeks who have their own software company, and Detectives Rolseth and Magozzi of the Minneapolis Police Department. In all the books, particularly the first one, it takes a little while to get everything set up, so the reader is jumping back and forth. Don't get confused and hang in there, because they are great! For example, the first book begins at a church in Wisconsin. I kept turning to the jacket cover and thinking, hm...I thought this series was in Minneapolis! Once we meet a character, like in real life, they may turn up again. Dead Run, the third book, also uses this Wisconsin sheriff's department quite a lot.

One unique thing about this series to me, is that the books are all so different. Monkeewrench is about equally divided between the Monkeewrench crew, who have developed a game about catching a serial killer and have put the prototype on the Internet, Detectives Magozzi and Rolseth, who investigate when the first couple of murders are duplicated exactly, and the before-mentioned sheriff's department in Wisconsin. Live Bait is primarily set in the MPD, where the reader gets to be part of an investigation not only with Magozzi and Rolseth, but also other members of the department. Although, the Monkeewrench crew has developed some really cool new software to help in the police work! This software puts them on the road in Dead Run, when the female members of Monkeewrench, Grace and Annie are headed to Green Bay with Wisconsin deputy Sharon, and get lost, finding a deserted town where all is definitely not right, inspiring collaboration between the Minnesota and Wisconsin county sheriffs and the FBI, as well as Magozzi and Rolseth and the rest of Monkeewrench. Snow Blind begins with a snowman building contest, sponsored as a charity event by the MPD, which takes a sinister turn when the dead bodies of Minneapolis policemen turn up in a couple of snowmen.

I guess I would characterize this series as primarily a police procedural, although the personal lives of some of the characters are pretty fully developed. The characters are great and grow with each book, and the plots are unique and unpredictable. This series is written by a mother and daughter team, and I hope they keep writing for a long time!