Snow Blind, by PJ Tracy

>> Monday, June 23, 2014

TITLE: Snow Blind
AUTHOR: PJ Tracy

COPYRIGHT: 2006
PAGES: 384
PUBLISHER: Onyx

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Mystery/Thriller
SERIES: #4 in the Monkeewrench series

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When the corpses of three police officers are discovered entombed in snowmen, Grace MacBride and her team of crime-busting computer jocks at the Monkeewrench firm are called in to assist. What they discover is a terrifying link among the victims that reaches beyond the badge and crosses the line between hard justice and stone cold vengeance.
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It's winter in Minnesota and Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are participating in a snowman-making contest. Things are going great, until the sun melts some of the snow on a particular snowman and the dead body inside is exposed. It turns this is not the only entrant containing a dead body, and it later transpires that another snowman-cadaver has been found in a small town not far from Minnesota. The one thing connecting all the bodies? The victims were all in law-enforcement.

Having been there, Magozzi and Gino take on the case and provide assistant to the very inexperienced sheriff of the town where the other body was found. And of course, they have the help of the Monkeewrench team, who use their super computer skills to uncover hidden connections online.

This is a solid entry in the series. As usual, we get a complex, multi-layered case and an investigation that feels sensible and keeps my attention fully engaged. This one was not my favourite so far, but it was above average for the genre. It kept me guessing right until the end, and the conclusion made sense and felt satisfying.

However, the reason I keep coming back to the series is not the mysteries, but the characters. I love Magozzi and his relationship with Grace McBride, the leader of the Monkeewrench team. This is a relationship that has been developing veeeery gradually throughout the series, mainly because Grace has major issues stemming from a horrific attack in her youth. Here we see her finally taking some steps that will make her romance with Magozzi, if not quite happen, at least be a possibility.

They are the central characters, but only barely, because the strength of the secondary characters make these books more of an ensemble piece. Gino is probably my favourite (he's adorable), but the others in the Monkeewrench team come close behind. They're quirky, but without being irritating.

I also particularly liked the new character who was introduced here (and I suspect will only return as a very minor character in further books), Iris Rikker. She's the very newly-elected sheriff in the town where the other body is found, and she's majorly inexperienced. And when I say newly-elected, I mean that the body was found on her first day in post, and when I say inexperienced, I mean that she was previously a schoolteacher and has absolutely no law-enforcement experience (it does make sense when the authors explain). She could have been made into a figure of fun, but she wasn't. I really liked how she came into her own.

I'm not sure how well this stands alone. That is, the police procedural element will do just fine, but the relationships? I'm not sure. You'll definitely get more out of the series if you start at the beginning, and Monkeewrench is fab, so why not?

MY GRADE: A B+.

2 comments:

Darlynne,  23 June 2014 at 17:37  

I enjoy this series, too, and agree that they must be read in order, or at least start with the first to lay the foundation. The characters are everything and I care deeply about each one, something I can't say for every book I read. I love the Monkeewrench gang and wish they were out there solving crimes through software for real.

Rosario 23 June 2014 at 21:52  

Agreed, you might be able to skip the others if you read book 1, although you'd miss the development of Grace and Magozzi's relationship, which is something I loved. I'm finding these are the mysteries that work for me, the ones with good characters. Just the puzzle is not enough.

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