Dead Run, by PJ Tracy

>> Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TITLE: Dead Run

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Mystery / Thriller
SERIES: 3rd in the Monkeewrench series

Monkeewrench founders Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky - along with Wisconsin deputy Sharon Mueller - are en route to Green Bay when their car breaks down deep in the northern woods. A short walk through the forest leads them to the eerily quiet town of Four Corners, where they find severed phone lines and a complete absence of any life. But the quiet is deceptive. Before they know it, they witness a horrifying double murder - and discover that this is only the beginning of a race to save their own lives…and countless others.
In this third installment of the Monkeewrench series, Grace and Annie have been asked by FBI agent Sharon Mueller (who readers who've been following the series will remember from the first book as the deputy who was the love interest of the country sheriff, Mitch Halloran) for help. There's a serial killer operating in Green Bay, and Sharon thinks the Monkeewrench super-duper software will be useful to catch him.

The three women set off in what should have been a simple roadtrip, with a few pleasurable detours to see interesting stuff, since there are no men in the car to complain. Unfortunately, a car breakdown results in them walking into the tiny town of Four Corners, and what they find there is just creepy. There's no one there, no one at all. Not humans, not animals. And then the women witness something that puts her on the run for their lives.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Halloran's men fish the bodies of three men, killed execution-style, out of a pond, and before they know it, the FBI have taken over and the entire area is in lockdown.

Clearly something big is going on, but as soon as Magozzi, Halloran and the remaining Monkeewrench guys realise Grace, Annie and Sharon are missing, they're off after them, certain that something is very wrong.

This one was a bit different from the previous two, more fast-paced thriller than puzzle-solving. In general, I prefer the latter, and I did like those two books a bit better than Dead Run, but that only means I really, really liked this one, rather than absolutely love it.

The authors (PJ Tracy is a mother-daughter team) have created a really fascinating set-up, and although they dot clues throughout the novel, it takes a while for us and the characters to figure out what's going on. They also sustain the suspense wonderfully well. I couldn't stop turning the pages, dying to see what would happen. And I especially appreciated that while we have the men racing off to rescue "their women", these three women are perfectly capable to take care of themselves, thank you very much.

I also liked how we got some very intriguing hints about both Annie and Sharon and their pasts. Annie, especially, has previously been a fun character, but a bit of a cartoon. She becomes a lot more real here, and I can't wait to know more.

My only criticism is that I wanted to know more than what I got about the villains. They're not necessarily the kinds of men you'd expect, we're told. But what are they, then? How did they link up? It's all left a bit up in the air.

I said in my review of the previous book that I was looking forward to seeing the Monkeewrench people actually using their magical computer programme. I thought I might get that in this book. I didn't, but since I got something that was also fantastic instead, that was all right with me. Still, I do hope I finally get my geeky Monkeewrench payoff in the next one, and from Snow Blind's blurb, it appears I will!



Vinagrinhos 15 May 2012 at 15:24  

It seems I really have to get to this series :-)

Rosario 16 May 2012 at 06:10  

Definitely, Ana, it's fantastic!

Anonymous,  16 May 2012 at 11:58  

I read Snow Blind and while I loved the first book in the series, the rest seemed to have fallen off for me as I much prefer the Monkeewrench crew to be front and center. The series is still readable and I still have one more book to read to be caught up in the series. Will await your thoughts on Snow Blind. --Keishon

Rosario 17 May 2012 at 06:12  

Keishon: I think for me it's the opposite. I love the Monkeewrench people, but while I want to see that computer programme actually working, I think I like Magozzi and Rolseth and that crew a tiny bit better!

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