A Book Spy Review: ‘The Guilty Dead’ by P.J. Tracy


The Guilty DeadFollowing the events of Nothing Stays Buried (2017), Grace MacBride’s Monkeewrench software company returns to Minnesota when homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth investigate the apparent suicide of a high-profile citizen. 

Gregory Norwood, a wealthy Minnesota-based businessman and generous philanthropist has never been the same since his son died in California. Now, still struggling with grief, along with a gloomy cancer diagnosis, a broken Norwood reaches out to Robert Zeller, who happens to be the favorite to win the governor’s seat, for help. Troubled by his old friend’s state of mind, Zeller asks the local police to perform a welfare check on Norwood, who then discover that he shot himself in the head, killing himself one year after his son overdosed in Los Angeles. 

Things seem straightforward enough–until Magozzi and Rolseth make a shocking discovery, casting serious doubt on the circumstances of Norwood’s death.

Though he was left-handed, the kill shot was fired from his right side. Statistics show that those who commit suicide by gun typically do so with their dominant hand. So, is it possible that Norwood didn’t succumb to his misery and heartache, but that someone murdered him? That quickly becomes the working theory, though it’s a little thin until another body turns up, prompting the detectives to enlist the services of Monkeewrench software company . . . who quickly uncover a dangerous connection to a terrorist organization that is said to be planning an attack on the Minneapolis City Hall. 

As Grace MacBride and her crew help the authorities try to prevent an attack, Norwood family secrets begin to spill out, including a new revelation about Gregory’s son that keeps the twisting narrative moving full-steam ahead. 

In a change of pace from past books, the Monkeewrench cast play mostly supportive roles here, which is just one noticeable difference in Traci Lambrecht’s first solo effort after the death of her mother, whom she previously wrote alongside under the P.J. Tracy pseudonym. New isn’t always bad, though, and Lambrecht proves that here. The slight changes pay off, and while it’s unclear if some of the newly-introduced characters will return down the road, the cast is diverse and well developed in this one, adding to the complex, fast-moving plot. 

Book Details

Author: P.J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench #9
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1683318587
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10




Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.


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