>> Saturday, July 19, 2014
TITLE: Play To Kill (released as Shoot To Thrill in the US)
AUTHOR: PJ Tracy
SETTING: Contemporary Minnesota
SERIES: 5th in the Monkeewrench series
It begins with a floater.
When Minneapolis homicide cops Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi are called to a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, they see the bride, facedown, dead in the water. And when the Monkeewrench crew-computer geeks who made a fortune on games, now assisting the cops with special anticrime soft-ware-are invited by the FBI to investigate a series of murder videos posted to the Web, it's not long before the group dis- covers the frightening link between the unlucky bride and the latest, most horrific use of the Internet yet. Using their skills to scour the Net to prevent more killings, the team must race against the clock... before it's too late.
With sophisticated special effects now so widely available, it can be hard to distinguish whether a death scene on film is staged or a real murder. Being aware of the real-life crime scenes, however, the cops have managed to determine that several videos posted online are of real crimes. It's not easy to make that distinction, though, so FBI Special Agent John Smith is sent to work with the Monkeewrench crew, to see if their clever software can find a way to identify the other real videos the FBI are afraid might be out there already, so far undetected. And when one of the videos proves to be from a crime in Magozzi and Rolseth's jurisdiction, they get involved as well.
This was a good one. I keep wanting to see more detail of what the Monkeewrench software can do, and it certainly gets a workout here. The theme is an interesting one, too: is technology facilitating behaviour that just wouldn't have happened before? It used to be that people with particularly aberrant desires and fantasies had no means to connect to others like them, but now they can do it with impunity. Are the benefits of modern technology enough to compensate for this? It's a theme that could have been developed a bit more subtly, but I was interested in the questions the authors were asking.
I liked the new character that was introduced here. John Smith is about to retire, and at first sight he's just as anonymous as his name would indicate. His job is his life. He has moved through life staying away from others, concentrating all his energy in work. Grace and him have a lot in common, and she notices that.
I was very interested to see that the halting progress of Grace and Magozzi's relationship is beginning to have an impact in the others. Gino Roselth, who might be my favourite character in the series, is starting to resent Grace here. He's starting to think that Grace's difficulties establishing a normal relationship with his good friend Magozzi might just be tipping into screwing with him, and he doesn't like it. That added an exciting and, actually, welcome edge into the relationship between the police and the Monkeewrench crew, which has always been pretty smooth.
I enjoyed the investigation very much, and then got to the ending. That was... wow. Surprising, to say the least, as well as very intriguing. It was so intriguing, in fact, that I can't wait to read the next book and see what it actually means.
MY GRADE: A B.