OFF THE GRID by P.J. Tracy.

Published Signet, large pb, July 2013. Book six in the Monkeewrench series.

While I was in Auckland in April I raided the ever-great Bookwormz and came home with a carton of used books in as-new condition. This was one of them and it looked so interesting I’d grabbed. I read it first once the carton arrived and then sat it on the ‘for consideration’ shelf for a month while I considered. After which I bought the other five published to date- new. (This is why authors shouldn’t mind too much about not making money off their books being sold and resold secondhand. If anyone buying one secondhand really loves it, they tend to buy the others new.) The five new ones tickled in and I started reading. They too were great, so much so that I went on to read this one a second time in three months because I couldn’t bear to have finished the series.

Off The Grid starts with Grace McBride and ex-FBI agent John Smith on his boat anchored off the Florida coast. Grace wakes hearing footsteps and creeps on deck to find the boat has been boarded by two men, they have a knife at John’s throat and it is clear that in another two seconds she’ll see him murdered. Grace shoots both men, and after brief discussion, dumps both bodies overboard, sets their dinghy free, and she and John go elsewhere, quickly. While that’s happening, a young girl fleeing from sex-trafficers has her throat cut while the four younger girls she is trying to save are whisked away. And a little later the police find two men shot executiuon style in a house with the four traumatized girls locked and bound in a back room. So does all this connect? You bet it does. It’s the beginning of a wild ride through Minneapolis as the computer firm of Monkeewrench, detectives Magozzi and Rolseth, and Smith’s FBI colleagues struggle to sort out possible Armageddon for a list of American cities. Along the way it takes in native Americans, war veterans, Somali criminals and winds down to a violent shootout in Reservation territory.

The book engaged me every step of the way, which is interesting considering that it was book six in a series. But still without my having read any of the earlier books, it managed to hook me completely. I found the characters fascinating, the action and plot convincing, and the peripherals intriguing. The interaction of the four people of Monkeewrench caught me strongly, I had to get the other five books and start the story from the beginning, find out about them, who they were, how they came to be together, and what Grace’s traumas had been. I needed to know about Grace and Magozzi’s relationship. I wondered about the other three, Annie, Harley, and Roadrunner. And how had Agent Smith come into their lives? I read the other five books as they came in and found out some of it, although not all, and I want to know the rest of it. P.J. Tracy has me hooked. I’m about to pre-order the next book (out around February 2015,) and hope that tells me more about the Monkeewrench people as well as providing another terrific ride. One thing however, the darn publishers are doing it again with this series that is, publishing some of the books in the UK with one cover/title, and in the USA with another. For instance, the first book, Monkeewrench is also published as Want To Play. Watch out for that. I accidently ended up with two copies of that book, one under each title. But do I recommend this book/the series. Hell yes! My only regret is that the author doesn’t write faster…

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