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REVIEW: Shoot to Thrill by PJ Tracy

Shoot to Thrill by PJ TracyDear Authors:

(PJ Tracy is a mother and daughter writing team). As you state in the frontpiece, “South African elephants produce faster” than you two but I never tired of waiting for the next installment of the Monkeewrench team. (Of course I had to google South African elephants to really get the joke and apparently elephants have a 22 month gestation period. I did not know this and I watch a lot of Discovery HD).

I have read the Monkeewrench series a number of times. I think I’ve read the first two at least four times. It is not possible for me to guess whether a reader, new to the series, could come in and enjoy the novel as much as I did. I feel a connection to these characters because I have spent so much time with them. If one didn’t know the history of the crucible in which Grace, in particular, was shaped, I think the reader wouldn’t appreciate the nuances of one of the main storylines or the underlying romance between Grace and Magozzi which was almost so subtle a pencil sketch that even I had a hard time making out the full shape of the relationship.

Shoot to Thrill is a timely thriller as it addresses the confluence of technology and deviant behavior and whether social media and instant internet fame drives people to more heinous acts than could previously be imagined or perhaps pushes people toward deviancy which hadn’t previously been explored.   ”The web is normalizing deviant behavior” one character suggests.

But, there are also a lot of people on the cusp-’disgruntled, twisted, deviant, whatever-’who might normally never act on their urges in the real world because there's no catalyst to push them to the next level. And some of these types actually understand that what they're feeling is antisocial and wrong. Enter the Web-’a safe, fantasy forum to communicate with like-minded people. "Hey, Joe, you fantasize about raping and killing women? Me too!' Get a blog with fifty or a hundred or a thousand guys like Joe talking to one another, and you've got yourself a whole new culture with its own morals and code of conduct."

As someone who is a great proponent of technology and the advantages it brings to us, this sort of thing gives me pause and from a reading standpoint, I love that.   It’s something to chew on even after the book is closed.

The FBI sends a liason to work with the Monkeewrench crew, a group of programming geniuses who have been through hell and came out the other side determined to use their skills to help stop criminals. Liason John Smith is six months from a mandatory retirement. He doesn’t want to leave the FBI because the FBI is his entire life.    John Smith lived a life as anonymous and bland as his name, connecting to no one and nothing except for his work.

For long time readers, we are quick to note that John is the ghost of Christmas future for Grace.   Grace is an emotional and psychological wreck.   Having been hunted and almost killed several times in her life, she has tried to cut herself off from the world, walks around fully armed, has multiple locks on her door, and wears knee high leather boots (to prevent her achilles tendons from being cut).   She has an ongoing romance with Detective Leo Magozzi whom she met in Book One, Monkeewrench, but she’s afraid of moving it forward.

Gino Rolseth is Leo’s partner and while he loves the Monkeewrench crew, he’s developing some very ambivalent feelings toward Grace and her cavalier treatment of Magozzi.   This is all complicated when a new woman enters Magozzi’s life in the form of gorgeous FBI profiler, Dr. Chelsea Thomas who makes it clear that she would be open to an advance from Magozzi.

Together Smith, the Monkeewrench crew, and detectives Rolseth and Magozzi work to discover who are the people behind the country-wide connected killing and violence spree that seems based on an internet group’s kill wishlist.

For all the technology that drives the killers, that powers the Monkeewrench crew, this story consciously or unconsciously makes the point that no crime is solved without a little luck and a lot of manpower.   It also serves to drive home the point that people are always hungry for contact that can’t be provided just through bytes and bits. One thing that I really appreciate is the delicacy in which the story is told although I did think the “technology is evil” was overt while the technology is good theme was a lot more subtle, maybe too subtle (Monkeewrench crew provides a lot of technology that helps to solve crimes, for example). And at the end, I swear I would have liked a little less of an ambiguous ending.

Revisiting the characters, agonizing over the slow but crumbling? romance between Magozzi and Grace, reveling in the banter between longtime partners Rolseth and Magozzi, made the nearly four year wait between books worth it but I have a nagging feeling that it won’t be that glorious for newcomers.   And really, it isn’t my favorite Monkeewrench book either so I am going to have to give this a B+.

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony | Kobo |

This is a hardcover from Penguin and thus is subject to pricing by Penguin.   Additionally given that Penguin and Amazon have not come to any agreement, there is no Kindle version.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

21 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention REVIEW: Shoot to Thrill by PJ Tracy | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    May 19, 2010 @ 14:01:12

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  2. Janet P.
    May 19, 2010 @ 14:50:19

    This series looked good to me so I went searching for eBooks.

    This is the series…
    1. Monkeewrench (also released as Want to Play)
    2. Live Bait
    3. Dead Run
    4. Snow Blind
    5. Shoot to Thrill (also released as Play to Kill)

    Kindle versions are available for the early books with a UK address. The Sony store has books 4 & 5.

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  3. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 14:51:35

    @Janet P.: I bought the early books from WH Smith, I think, with my US credit card about three years ago.

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  4. Stephanie Newton
    May 19, 2010 @ 16:02:37

    I loved the first four books and have been not-so-patiently waiting for Shoot to Thrill to come out. I was ready to run right to my Kindle to download it. Bummer.

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  5. Keishon
    May 19, 2010 @ 16:23:08

    A B+ is pretty good grade. I don’t know what I was expecting. I didn’t know the first two books made such a huge impression on you. I loved the first but liked the second one and third is still unread but I will get to it soon.

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  6. orannia
    May 19, 2010 @ 18:52:00

    Thank you Jane. I’ve just started reading this (so probably shouldn’t have read your review, but I couldn’t resist) and have only just met Chelsea.

    Now having read your review, I’m very interested to see how things develop. I like Grace but…she has a long way to travel before she is able to commit to the type of relationship Magozzi needs.

    And now I want to read Monkeewrench all over again. (I’m lucky, my local library has them all.)

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  7. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 19:04:24

    @orannia I’ll be very interested in hearing what you think of the ending and whether you drew the same conclusions regarding Grace and Magozzi as I did or whether it was just my wishful thinking.

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  8. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 19:11:36

    @Keishon I loved them. I really love police procedure books and Rolseth and Magozzi make the mundane details of the police work entertaining.

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  9. Maili
    May 19, 2010 @ 19:58:06

    @Janet P.: Thanks for the list! I’d been searching for ‘Shoot to Thrill’ at WHSmith and Book Depository, not realising it has a UK title. I’d assumed they stopped after the first book as they didn’t bother to change titles of the second, third and fourth books.

    Edited: I certainly can understand why they changed the title of the debut, but why is there a need to change the title of this latest?

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  10. Dawn
    May 19, 2010 @ 20:41:14

    Jane
    I am dying to know what you think about your thoughts about Grace and Magozzi.

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  11. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 20:50:37

    @Dawn:
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    I thought (or at least hoped) that Magozzi getting what he wanted meant that Grace told him that she loved him or that she wanted to live together or something permanent that would make him believe he had the pink robe to go home to.

    What was your take on it?

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  12. Dawn
    May 19, 2010 @ 20:59:33

    @Jane:
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    I am with you, I think Grace likes Smith, but not in the romantic way. Remember Magozzi was jealous of Smith and Roadrunner said it was father/daughter thing. That same night when Smith was in the car with the detectives, he told magozzi how fortunate he was with how Grace felt about him and this was after he asked Grace to go with him.
    Either Magozzi is with them on the boat or Grace is trying get away to try her wings. I don’t know if I am PMSing or what, but the thought of them over really does not sit well with me.

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  13. Tae
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:02:06

    I loved the first book so much. The second was pretty good, but I didn’t love the third one. the fourth one was better (if memory serves). I’m always waiting for the next book. I saw the duo at a bookstore in Minneapolis when the first book came out – I was there waiting for a different signing. That’s how I found out about the book, I wish I had picked it up then and got it signed because it was an amazing first book.

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  14. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:04:03

    @Dawn:
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    Yay! I am not the only one who is imagining those things then. Yes, I agree that the clues hint toward something positive between Magozzi and Grace.

    I didn’t like that the story ended with Grace and John on his boat and not Grace and Magozzi doing something but maybe it was to show the readers that Grace was really healing because she was out! on a boat! allowing new people into her life!

    If the next book is Magozzi and Grace broken up, I probably will regret reading the entire series and write a hate filled post about authors betraying readers and bla bla bla but for now, I’ll just hope and pray that our interpretation is correct.

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  15. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:05:38

    @Tae: I liked the ones with the snowmen in it but not the one with the farm. Thought that was a low point in the series.

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  16. Dawn
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:14:06

    Jane

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    I am so with you and I am sooooo happy I am not the only one. I will be so disappointed to have someone between the two. Also they are the best characters. I don’t want Monkeewrench without Gino and Magozzi or the other way around.
    I had the same kind of thing happen with the Karen Slaughter series with her characters of Sarah and Jeffery.

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  17. Jane
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:16:56

    @Dawn: I’m with you 100% Dawn. In fact, my comment about the angry blog post was a jab at my previously posted rant against the Jeffrey/Sara story:

    Link here

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  18. Dawn
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:27:16

    Jane,

    I hate to be depressed after reading a book in a series. Not a single book, but a series. If you are anything like me you will hate Dennis LeHane, he wrote the new movie Shutter Island and after I read it I was crazy disappointed.
    Any authors you recommend? I have one – J Kornath – The Jack Daniels series.

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  19. Keziah Hill
    May 21, 2010 @ 03:54:58

    I do like this series although I didn’t think this one was as good as earlier ones. Their POV switching tends to annoy me but not enough to put the series down. I liked the end. Kept the whole Grace/Magozzi thing uncertain.

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  20. orannia
    May 22, 2010 @ 02:51:18

    @Jane – just finished earlier today.

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    I didn’t think that that Magozzi getting what he wanted meant that Grace had said those three little words *grin* but more that Grace was…open to changing, open to working at the trust issues she has. So, Magozzi could let himself feel a little bit of hope where before I think he was waiting for Grace to just pull back completely. And I’m not worried about John. I think I see their relationship as more of a partnership…both working towards the same goal.

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    Do we have any idea of the next book in the series? Reading Shoot To Thrill has me wanting to re-read Monkeewrench all over again :)

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  21. Dear Author Recommends for June | Dear Author
    May 31, 2010 @ 20:22:19

    [...] Shoot to Thrill by PJ Tracy (Kindle ). Recommended by Jane. [...]

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