Thursday 10 May 2012

P.J. Tracy

I've been told I don't write about women authors so here we have two for the price of one: PJ Tracy is actually a mother/daughter partnership and a jolly good one too.

Mother Patricia (P.J.) and daughter Traci Lambrecht have produced a set of crime novels which are way better than I'd have expected. Given they claim to have only some freelance writing and a little romantic fiction behind them, their writing is assured, their characters are good and their plotting is of a similarly high standard.

Personality-wise, there's not much info around - a bit on the Tracys' web site which is oft repeated. Live in Minnesota, where the books are set. Work via internet and personal collaboration, never a cross word, nicely self-deprecatory in tone ... Whatever they do, it's working and they're racking uo the sales and awards to show for it.

What do they write: intricately plotted crime novels, mainly around Minneapolis detectives Magozzi and Gino, with a well drawn group of software engineers (bear with me) coming in and out of focus. There's murder aplenty and they follow a pattern of not giving out clues while the tension and the bodycount rise. It works because they know how to pace a story and how to engage the attention along the way.

The software engineers? A group forming a company called Monkeewrench, central to the first novel. Fleeing from some dark episode in their past, entwined in the actions of a serial killer in the present. There's a love interest on the way between Magozzi and the paranoid Grace; actually acceptably done through the books. Speaking as a software engineer by trade, I normally run a mile when most authors "get into computers" - PJT does it well. Speaking as a lover of good crime fiction, I've seen too many promising books ruined by a love interest - not so in this case.

Bad points: sometimes the dialogue lets them down by coming across as a bit wimpy for hardbitten cops. Not enough to spoil the books but occasionally it's jarring.

So, would you like them? Bloodier than some but not excessively so. Sex scenes minimal, bad language at acceptable level. Still too violent for my mum but most others will enjoy them. Similar to? There's a hint of the Lucas Davenports - perhaps because of the locations and the Scandinavian references.

P.J. Tracy official site
First in the set, originally published as MONKEEWRENCH in the USA.


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