Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book Review: Live Bait by P. J. Tracy

Live Bait
Author: P. J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench (Book 2)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons; Reissue edition (April 5, 2005)

Description: Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are bored - ever since they solved the Monkeewrench case, the Twin Cities have been in a murder-free dry spell, as people no longer seem interested in killing one another. But with two brutal homicides taking place in one  awful night, the crime drought ends - not with a trickle, but with an eventual torrent. Who would kill Morey Gilbert, a man without an enemy, a man who might as well have been a saint? His tiny, cranky little wife, Lily, is no help, and may even be a suspect; his estranged son, Jack, an infamous ambulance-chasing lawyer, has his own enemies; and his son-in-law, former cop Marty Pullman, is so depressed over his wife's death a year ago that he's ready to kill himself, but not Morey. The number of victims - all elderly - grows, and the city is fearful once again." The detectives' investigation threatens to uncover a series of horrendous secrets, some buried within the heart of the police department itself, blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Grace MacBride's cold-case-solving software may find the missing link - but at a terrible price.

My Thoughts: Minneapolis is in the midst of a murder dry spell and Magozzi and Rolseth are getting bored. But all that changes one night when Morey Gilbert, the elderly owner of a greenhouse, is found murdered and, that same night,  Arlen Fischer, another elderly man in the same neighborhood, is found murdered and tied with barbed wire to a train track.

Magozzi and Rolseth are assigned the death of Morey Gilbert, the greenhouse owner. They find that his elderly wife had moved his body and washed and shaved him before calling the police. This makes her a suspect. Their estranged son Jack, who is a personal injury lawyer, is also a suspect. So is their son-in-law Marty Pullman who is a former police officer who left the force after his wife was murdered. Otherwise, Morey seems to be the local saint offering help to anyone who needs it. He is even putting one of his young workers through college. Everyone loved him.

Before they can get a handle on the crime, another elderly grandmother in the same neighborhood is also found murdered. And, a day later, Ben Schuler, one of Morey's best friends, is also found murdered. Magozzi and Rolseth are baffled. They try to connect the victims but they can't find any connection between Morey and Rose Kleber, the grandmother except that they were both Jewish and both survivors of concentration camps. So was Ben Schuler.

Even turning all of their information to Grace MacBride at Monkeewrench to run through her new computer program that quickly finds connections doesn't really help. Magozzi and Grace are tentatively working their way to a relationship which is being hampered by the aftereffects of Magozzi's divorce and Grace's paranoia based on the way she was treated by the FBI when some murders happened around her many years earlier. Grace and the rest of the Monkeewrench gang are getting ready to take off around the US in a tricked out RV to share their crime fighting software with small, understaffed police departments with unsolved crimes.

The more Magozzi and Rolseth investigate the more they discover that Morey and his friends Rose and Ben had deep secrets. Of course, so do many of the other characters including some of the police officers investigating one or the other of the crimes.

This was an entertaining mystery. I especially liked the Minneapolis settling and the many times the quirks of Minnesotans became part of the story.

Favorite Quote:
Giddy, sun-starved Minnesotans were out in force, cherishing the temporary delusion that the state was actually habitable.
"We all walk around with holes in out hearts." She looked back and met his eyes. "But we still walk around."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I enjoyed this one too. I really begab to "get" the characters:)

  2. Sounds complicated but an interesting read. Thanks for the review.


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