From Publishers Weekly
The mother-daughter mystery writing team known as P.J. Tracy produces another winner with this follow-up to 2003's lively Monkeewrench
. After several homicide-free months in their hometown of St. Paul, wisecracking police detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are back in action when elderlyâ"and much belovedâ"gardener Morey Gilbert is found face up near his greenhouse with a bullet hole in his head. At first, the prime murder suspects are family members: Gilbert's estranged son, Jack, a slick personal injury lawyer, and Gilbert's dry-eyed widow, Lily, who discovered the corpseâ"and moved it before the police arrived. When three more slayings follow, Magozzi and Rolseth discern disturbing common threads: each of the victims is over 80 andâ"except for Arlen Fisher, shot in the arm and dragged onto the train tracks to face his doomâ"Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps. Critical clues, including a gun traced to murders around the globe, surface as straitlaced detectives Aaron Langer and Johnny McLaren join the more offbeat Magozzi and Rolseth on the case. Tracy serves up punchy prose and quirky characters, from a sartorially challenged police chief to a plump, shrewd crime tech named Grimm. Romance for bachelor Magozzi arrives in the form of Grace MacBride, a comely computer whiz whose sophisticated software program, FLEE, has helped crack countless cases. The courtship moves slowly despite undeniable sparks; MacBride is still haunted by Monkeewrenchâ"the deadly case that first brought the two together and continues to hover like a cloud of doom. With her stash of high-tech research tools, including special face recognition software, MacBride delivers revelations about both victims and perpetrator, leading Magozzi and Rolseth toward the case's spine-chilling resolution. With generous doses of humor and suspense, this sharp, satisfying thriller will rivet readers from the start.
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Forget Florida. Lose L.A. It's Minnesota that's heating up contemporary mysteries. Think William Kent Krueger and John Sandford, both of whom move their novels easily between the Twin Cities and the wild country to the north.
Two more Minnesota crime writers, each with their second novels coming out, prove the cold front is no fluke. In Live Bait, the mother-daughter writing team that goes by the name P. J. Tracy concocts a police procedural that can be cherished for its dead-on cop humor and cop banter, as much as for the intricate plot. "Homicide is dead," laments a Minneapolis homicide detective: no bodies on the ground for months, only cold cases to keep the homicide guys busy. And then, a boon for Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth--two possible murders in one spring day. Both of the deceased are in their 80s; both live near each other. The cases are satisfyingly tricky. In the first, there is no crime scene, since the nongrieving widow dragged her husband from the outdoors into a greenhouse. In the second, there is a scene but no body--until one turns up tied to the railroad tracks. If a police procedural can be both disturbing and fun-filled, this is it. Connie Fletcher
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