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on 10 February 2013
I received my copy from Michael Joseph through Nudge and rated it 4.5 stars.

Grace MacBride is on an extended sailing trip with retired FBI agent John Smith when he is attacked in the middle of the night while they are in the Florida Keys. And this isn't a random attack; the two men Grace is forced to shoot and kill had a photo of John on them. Meanwhile in Minneapolis a missing Native American teenage girl is found with her throat slashed in a parking lot. The four young girls who went missing with her are found, alive, when the police stumble on the bodies of two Somali men during a house to house investigation. And while the reader knows who shot those men, the investigators have no idea. Just as they have no idea why a young man, in the later stages of cancer, would have ended up in a fatal gunfight with two other Somali men. And when they find a room full of heavy duty weapons and explosives in the house in front of which the three men died, the questions only increase, as does the sense of panic. Something big is about to go down in just a few days time but what it might be is just as unclear as how it is connected to further incidents.

This is a book with a lot of apparently unconnected story-lines, and for a long time it is hard to figure out what exactly is going on. In fact, there is so much happening and so many characters and locations are involved that this is a thriller with a very long build-up. This doesn't mean this book has a boring or slow start though; the action kicks off on the very first page and doesn't let up until the last one. What is unclear though is how everything that is taking place is connected. Any reader of thrillers will realise from the start that all the, apparently random, scenes have to fit together in some way but they will have to be patient if they want to know exactly how or why. Having said that, there were one or two developments I figured out before the investigators in the story came to the same conclusion, but only by a few pages and with the benefit of the multiple perspectives this story is told from.

The plot in this book is, as stated above, convoluted. It is also original and scarily plausible. I can't say more about it without having to resort to spoilers, but I will say that if authors can come up with ideas like this than others can as well, and that is a frightening thought.

This is the sixth book in a series and although it can easily be read as a stand-alone story I think readers would benefit from having read the previous titles first, especially when it comes to fully understanding and appreciating the various returning characters. Personally I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend some time with Gino, Magozzi and the Monkeywrench crew again; it had been too long.

The mother-daughter team that is P.J. Tracy writes good mystery-thrillers with story-lines that are intelligent and scary as well as quirky characters that the reader will become attached to. The writing is tight yet smooth. The balance between tension, action and clever - and at times funny - dialogue is just right. Yes, the story is fast-paced but this doesn't come at the expense of character development or back-ground information. The reader is, at all times, given all the information they need in order to be truly involved in the story and that makes for a more rewarding reading experience. And I always love a book that has one last revelation just when the reader thinks the story is over and all the questions have been answered.

This is a well-plotted and intricate thriller with a chilling story-line and interesting characters; a must read for all fans of intelligent page-turners.
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on 7 September 2013
Something is amiss with the writing team of PJ Tracy - they dropped their newsletter and have taken three years to produce this latest novel in the Monkeewrench series.

The first four books were terrific page-turners and the last one Play to Kill (Shoot to Thrill) began well with the authors neatly building up the tension. Then it was as if they suddenly got bored and wrapped up the ending far too quickly.

Unfortunately the same malaise affects this book. Young Red Indian girls are kidnapped and Somalian terrorists have moved onto Gino and Leo's manor. Are the two linked? Grace and retired FBI agent John Smith are away at sea - much to Leo's chagrin - and Grace has managed to relax. She has even dispensed with her ever-present riding boots and lets the sun tan her toes. Then something happens...

The Monkeewrench crew are missing Grace but they are busy working at Harley's mansion on new software. Then they receive a phone call...

P.J. Tracy nicely builds the action, even adding some comedy with someone's fear of flying. It is all going well and you think that they have got their mojo back but then it ends abruptly with almost nothing happening - at least nothing that the reader is privy too.

I'm afraid the authors are running out of steam but not ideas and they don't seem to be able to take the book that one extra step and that's a pity.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 17 January 2013
At the end of the previous book in this series Grace MacBride sailed away with ex-FBI agent John Smith. Three months later she is relaxed and recovered, with a significant reduction in her paranoia, until their boat is boarded at night by two men who intend to kill John. Meanwhile, Gino and Magozzi and the rest of the Monkeewrench team are involved in the aftermath of two killings in the city and their possible connection with John Smith.

This is a book about the American War on Terror and domestic terrorism. It isn't very sophisticated in its politics and the bad guys (all Muslims) are not personified in any way - the action and the characterisation lies solely with those who oppose them, in whatever way. This made me, and might make a British reader who also doesn't share the admiration for the American military that it is shown in this book, a little uncomfortable. The moral dilemma that is present here is about whether it is acceptable to use unlawful methods to oppose terrorists and not in any way about the aims, objectives or feelings of the terrorists themselves.

The characterisation of the law enforcement officers and the Monkeewrench team is beautifully done. New characters are added and existing characters develop. The Grace/Magozzi relationship becomes even more complicated, Gino displays a range of interesting phobias, more hints are given about a possible future for Harley and Annie, and some new Native American characters and ex-soldiers become part of the story. You don't have to have read earlier books about the same characters but if you have it adds depth to your reading and enjoyment.

I found the narrative of this book very straightforward and I was looking for a twist which never came (the revelation in the epilogue was very well signposted and shouldn't have come as a surprise to any reader). It was a bit short on the tension which has been a great part of the author(s)' previous books - especially Dead Run which I think has been the most gripping to date. The best part of the book by far is the characterisation and the interaction between people, and also the writing style which is engaging. I did laugh a bit and I did cry at one point too.

This is an engaging suspense novel which is enjoyable to read. It doesn't examine its subject in too much depth and the themes portrayed are not very nuanced. It is, however, written well and has lots of interesting characters and situations. I look forward to the next one.
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on 4 November 2014
How could it have all gone so wrong?

The Monkeewrench series hasn't been consistently great, but there are a few genuine gems and none have been so terrible that I didn't pick up the next book on release.

Where do I even begin? OK...

1) The plot is terrible. Genuinely. It's the kind of thing you would expect from a paranoid Republican.

2) Inaccuracies. Over use of the word "jihad" in place of correct terminology.

3) "No Right, No Wrong, No Choice" is written on the book sleeve. Whatever, the authors clearly have a position here, and it's morally questionable.

4) Rushed ending. A slow burn, then we seem to be missing pages.

5) Too much focus on uninteresting secondary characters.

6) Stereotype galore.

The authors dropped the ball, as a fan of the other books in the series, this was certainly disappointing.
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Quite often when a book is written by two people , in this case by a mother and daughter team , the end result is not as good as either one writing on their own but in this case the result is a very good story about what happens when terrorists, seeking to maim innocent people to satisfy what they think they're destined to do in order to further their beliefs, come across determined vigilantes who try to beat them at their own game. The action takes place in the USA and you get the impression that the law agencies , when they realise what's happening , are tempted to " turn a blind eye", a fast moving gripping tale of an "eye for an eye" or " a tooth for a tooth".
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on 21 August 2013
After waiting for what seemed like forever for the new PJ Tracy book i can only say i was severely disappointed with this!
The story appears hurried and dis-jointed! It jumps a lot and lacks plot and depth....i can honestly say that on more than one occasion i put this down and was really not bothered if i ever finished it..however, i persevered (always the optimist) hoping that it would eventually get better, and i truthfully have to say it didn't!
Definately not the best, but it completes the set to this point, i can only hope the next one is better!
Keeping my fingers crossed!
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on 7 November 2013
After the somewhat downbeat ending of Play to Kill, I thought that the P J Tracey team had retired Grace and the rest of the Monkeewrench crew for good, so I was intrigued when I saw they had a new book out.

Two Evils gets off to a cracking start. Grace MacBride has tried to leave her past behind her by sailing off into the sunset with retired FBI agent John Smith. Just as she's beginning to relax for the first time in her life, her peace is shattered when she foils an attempt to kill John while they are at sea. Grace and John go into hiding and get in contact with Grace's old colleagues, the computer experts at Monkeewrench, to try and discover who was behind the attempt on John's life. Meanwhile, detectives Gino and Magozzi are investigating a series of strange murders and a possible terrorist plot. Could these somehow be linked?

There's quite a lot of different plot strands and ideas in Two Evils, but as it's a pretty slim book, a lot of it feels rushed with details just squeezed in, and no real room for any character development. While the central idea behind the terrorist threat is a good one, I don't think the book does it justice very well. Characters act in very unrealistic ways and make very stupid decisions, all in order to get them in place for a final showdown, which when it happens takes place "off screen"!

Although fast-paced and exciting (until the ending, anyway), Two Evils was ultimately disappointing. I also much prefer the US title, Off the Grid, as in my opinion there was no dilemma in choosing between the "Two Evils" at all!

I do still want to know what happens to Grace and Magozzi in the future though, so hopefully the next book will be more satisfying.
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on 27 August 2013
Two Evils is part of a serious of books featuring Grace McBride and her "gang" of computer hackers at monkeewrench.
Two men are found killed in their house, execution style, and the next morning another murder, this time of three men. However when the police start to investigate, it turns out that the men in question were hardly upstanding citizens. Local policemen Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are drafted in to try and solve these murders, along with a murder of a 15 year old girl. Grace becomes involved after thwarting an assassination attempt on an FBI officer and the action culminates in a violent confrontation on an isolated Indian reservation.

Starting off with a mixture of characters and murders, it takes a while for the different storylines to start blending together. Once I had got into the book and started to make sense of all the plots, it did begin to move along nicely, and I particularly enjoyed the moral dilemma aspects to the storyline. As the book's title suggests, sometimes it's a case of picking the lesser of two evils.

On the whole it was an enjoyable crime novel, but I did find that I was missing something from not having read the previous books. Unlike other crime novels which feature the same characters, I found that not having read the previous books was a disadvantage. At the start of the book Grace is on a boat and is clearly upset about something, but this is never really discussed in depth, and the author assumes that the reader has read the previous novel and therefore knows what is going on. Obviously as a rule most people will have read the books in order and therefore this is not a massive criticism, but it does make the series stand out from others, which I have previously reviewed, where prior knowledge of the books and characters is not a requisite for reading the other books in a series. I would be interested in reading further books by PJ Tracy (the mother/daughter crime writing duo) but I think I will be starting at the beginning....
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2013
I hadn't read any of the Monkeewrench series before and so came to this new. I enjoyed reading it but there was something lacking for me. The book has a good enough start; within the first two chapters, Grace McBride and her companion John Smith, a retired FBI agent, are attacked on their sailing trip to the Florida Keys and five young girls are kidnapped from an Indian reservation. What is the connection between them and why does someone want John dead?

The main story involves Somali terrorists, Iraqi war veterans and Elbow Lake, an Indian Reservation, overseen by the Chief of Tribal Police. The Chief and his hunting friend Claude, and of course the two cops Magozzi and Gino join forces with the FBI to fight the threat of terrorism, which if successful would have devastating consequences. There was a quite a focus on the Indian Reservation and their customs and I did find the new characters that kept being introduced a little confusing at first. Some characters were introduced at the start of the story and then never heard of again.

Grace McBride and her Monkeewrench team combine with Magozzi and Gino and ultimately everyone's safety is jeopardized whilst trying to stop the terrorists committing their evil acts. The book was on the whole a pacy read however the action and suspense I was expecting at the end was missing and the climax was a real disappointment.

My rating for this book would be 3.5. It was enjoyable but I'm not sure that I cared enough about the characters or the writing, to seek out the previous books in this series.
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on 9 February 2013
It's book 6 in the Monkeewrench series by mother and daughter writing duo, P. J. & Traci Lambrecht, writing under the pseudonym P.J. Tracy, but unfortunately I hadn't previously read the other 5 books in the series which might have helped with a bit of background to the characters and their relationships.

At first homicide detectives Gino and Magozzi think they are dealing with a series of seemingly unrelated murders but once they start investigating it soon becomes clear that these are not as random as they once thought and that there may infact be a connection between them all.

Meanwhile computer analyst Grace MacBride finds herself caught up in what seemed like another unrelated event whilst on vacation with ex FBI agent John Smith, but when she returns home to Minneapolis she and her Monkeewrench colleagues soon find themselves caught right in the middle of the action.

Two Evils was a bit of a slow burner for me, with all the different supposedly unrelated crimes, but once the links started appearing then I was hooked and read the last 150 or so pages in one go as I wanted to find out how it was all going to end.

This book could be read as a standalone, as I had done, but as mentioned previously I think it's probably better if you had read the other books previously to follow the dynamics between the Monkeewrench crew and the detectives.

Overall it's not bad as a crime novel and I'm sure that I'll probably read the other books in the Monkeewrench series at some stage in the future.
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