Sunday, February 10, 2013


Pages: 305
Date: 10/02/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 6 Gino and Magozzi Thriller
            Received from Michael Joseph / Penguin
            Through Nudge
             Also published as Off the Grid 

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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