Newest Review: ... due to some event that happened whilst they were friends at university really intrigued me. There were nice twists and turns and I loved ... more
Murder by Numbers
Want to Play? - P.J. Tracy
Member Name: wiggglypufff
Want to Play? - P.J. Tracy
Advantages: Fast paced, gripping
Disadvantages: A lot of characters to get to know
In Minneapolis, Minnesota detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are assigned to the case of a jogger found dead - and discover there's something odd about his mouth. A day later comes case two, a murder in a cemetery - in which the circumstances are even more bizarre.
Also in Minneapolis are the Monkeewrench team; a group of five software programming friends, currently working on a new game, Serial Killer Detective. This is a game where you seek clues from a series of (carefully staged) murder scenes in order to catch the killer. When the news of the cemetery murder hits the press the team are chilled by the familiarity of the circumstances: it's seemingly a copycat killing of the 2nd murder in their game. Unable to let this pass as co-incidence, the group hesitantly go to the police.
As Grace and the team share their concerns on the similarity of the 2nd murder, detectives Magozzi and Rolseth query the nature of the game's 1st. The detectives are shown a picture of a jogger, with a piece of liquorice in his mouth. Immediate suspicion falls on Grace and friends, as the game isn't on commercial release yet. However, it is live online, with hundreds of players, and 20 levels to solve. 20 levels, 20 different murder scenes... The suspect count rises to over 500 and anyone of them could be a serial killer, playing the Serial Killer game!
In investigating the suspects, Magozzi and Rolseth's attentions keep turning to the programmers as it appears there's something in their history that they're running from something, a something for which they'll do anything to keep in the past...
Meanwhile, the case in Kingsford County is taking a more sinister turn too. A search of the elderly couple's property suggests they probably knew their lives were in danger, and further investigation into their past by Halloran and Carlson leads to the conclusion they were running scared, for a long time, from something in the past...
...Or maybe someone?
Want to Play? by P.J.Tracy is a fantastic crime thriller. The book moves at a fast pace from start to finish and whilst there are constant twists and turns and snippets of detail offering up new possibilities and ideas, the storylines remain solid throughout. I found myself gripped, racing through the book at speed as each revelation left me enlightened yet at the same time wanting, needing, to know more.
Likewise the characters are built up strongly. I felt I knew enough about them to be able to relate, whilst on the other hand I suspected that there was so much more still to discover and I really wanted to know what it was.
There's a tendency sometimes in books of this genre to stereotype characters through gender with the males being the dominant macho heroes and the females being timid and over-emotional. I certainly don't feel that's the case with Want to Play? There are strengths and weaknesses across the board. Sexist remarks come from unexpected sources as do heart-on-sleeve emotional displays.
I didn't feel the book was padded out with insignificant details, plot or people for added word count. Everything and everyone was there for a reason.
If I have any criticism of the book it's that you're introduced to a lot of characters and several seemingly independent storylines very early on which can get a little confusing. Another slight bugbear is that whilst you're still trying to get to grips with all the characters, names are then shortened - some get referred to by Christian name and others by surname - which again can cause confusion. It wasn't so much of an issue that it spoiled my enjoyment of the book, but I did find myself keeping a thumb and finger in a couple of pages for a short while so I could refer back to confirm who was who, and who was involved in what.
I'd liken the style to Dean Koontz, (early character overload and concurrent story lines are a common trait of his books) but with an extra dose of humour, and some sexual tension thrown in. A winning combination.
Want to Play? is the debut novel from a mother and daughter team - P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, - collaboratively penned under the name of P.J.Tracy. You'd be forgiven for not recognising that name, as the writing duo are perhaps not what you'd class as prolific (they've published 4 books to date) however quality over quantity is definitely order of the day.
The other books from P.J.Tracy are "Live Bait" (you'll find a several chapter preview of this at the end of the 2004 print of Want to Play?), "Dead Run" and "Snow Blind". Whilst each book can hold its own as a standalone novel, in my opinion you'll get more from reading them in order. Many of the key characters from Want to Play? re-surface, and character development continues. You get the odd reference to events of previous books too, though I felt they were neither crucial to understanding the current plot nor major spoilers of the past happenings.
Summary: A great read. Recommended!