Play to Kill, cover

Detectives and computer experts join forces in desperate hunt for person or persons committing serial murders and posting video on social networking sites.

Serial Killers and Social Networking, A Detective Story

P J Tracy, the successful mother and daughter writing team of P J and Traci Lambrecht, published their new novel Play to Kill in the UK in 2010. It is a follow on to the previous Monkeewrench novel, Want to Play Again?

Computers and Social Networking Videos

Monkeewrench is a small company of highly capable but eccentric, computer technicians recruited by the FBI for another challenge. They are asked to help the FBI find who is posting videos of murders on line and hiding behind computer systems all around the world. Grace McBride and her maverick colleagues are asked to produce software to identify video of real murders from those that have been staged to help the investigations.

Whilst searching the internet and possible web sites they find other, more disturbing, information that takes the hunt in new directions. Those findings are even more troubling and they have to search the internet for other murder videos and warning signs that may show a pattern. It all adds urgency to hunt for the murder as it becomes clear that further deaths are planned, and imminent.

They are helped in the search for the serial killers by two Minneapolis police detectives, Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth, when they realise a death they are investigating is a murder not an accident. They bring their traditional police methods to support and use the computer knowledge of the Monkeewench team.

The computer experts, police and FBI agent are all thrown together in a confined and intense environment. As a result the searchers not only discover new twists and solve the crime but also find out things about themselves and life they had forgotten or lost.

Thin Plot with Interesting Twists and Light Characterisation

The overall story line is a good yarn based on a good idea with some interesting twists but much of the story line is pretty thin. It is not helped by a side plot which provides the detectives with a distraction but barely fits with the main plot.

The characters are similarly lightly drawn and the reader will probably not relate to them. In the main they are pleasant enough and all rather too nice despite some rather dysfunctional personal lives

The technical computer aspects are skimmed over so do not get in the way of the read. As a result non-technical readers should not be put off or see Play to Kill as a story for geeks. However some with a technical background may feel that the technical aspects are glossed over too much for a story where the internet and computers are of such major importance.

Play to Kill is a pleasant and satisfying enough read with which to while away a plane or train trip. It will not challenge readers but they are unlikely to reread it. Unfortunately there is a lot of competition from better books in this detective and murder mystery genre. It is not a book that pretends that the reader will be able to solve the mystery - the evidence is not there but it is a decent enough tale.

Play to Kill (2010, ISBN: 978-0-718-15274-1) is published in hardback at £16.99 by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin.

 

First appeared on Suite101

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