The weather is very cold and so is the killer

Some years ago I found the crime series by PJ Tracy which starts with Want to Play (recently retitled Monkeewrench). These books are set in Minnesota and feature a group of friends who own and run a very successful IT company and two detectives from the local police department. From the first book the two sets of characters become involved with the Monkeewrench team helping to solve crimes and the detectives also becoming involved in the challenges faced by the team. Eventually one detective and one IT specialist become involved romantically and by this book have their first child.

We have now reached book ten in the series, Ice Cold Heart, where the city is experiencing a very cold spell (and it gets very cold in this area). A woman is found dead and it appears that there may be a serial killer on the loose. The Monkeewrench team are investigating a problem with a company whose crypto currency has been stolen. One member of their team, Roadrunner, discovers a woman passed out in the freezing conditions and befriends her. Slowly all these different stories come together to reveal an horrendous secret and a truly evil predator.

The first book in this series establishes the names and characters of the Monkeewrench team. They all met in college and had no close friends so came together and have made themselves fabulously wealthy. As the books progress you get hints of their past stories and we begin to see why they behave as they do. I like the team but I do have to say that I have some reservations about whether they can really do everything they seem to be able to do with their computers – it is certainly very convenient as a plot device to have them find a fact or work out what someone is doing online. I suspend my disbelief when reading these books.

I liked this story a lot. It wasn’t obvious from the beginning what was going on and even when it became clearer it was still difficult to know who was responsible. All the characters in this book behave sensibly and the investigation is run properly – no mavericks here and a lot of team work. The solution to the mystery is slowly unravelled as the story progresses and everything is wrapped up very satisfactorily by the end. The main characters are very likable and the book is enjoyable to read. The descriptions of the cold weather and how this is used in the story were excellent – it made me feel cold to read some of it. This book is not at the gritty end of the genre but it does deal with a time in modern history that we could all do with knowing more about.

As you would expect me to say I recommend that you start with the first book in this series and learn to know the characters as you read each book.

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