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Snow Blind    by P. J. Tracy order for
Snow Blind
by P. J. Tracy
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

The fabulous mother-daughter writing team of P. J. and Traci Lambrecht score another big winner in Snow Blind, the fourth installment in their Monkeewrench series. Their combination of quirky characterizations, original and timely plotting, sharp and often darkly humorous dialogue, stellar pacing, a flair for bringing their native state of Minnesota to life, plus a definite nod toward girl power, make for an irresistible combination. This time however, the enigmatic Grace McBride and her team of computer experts do a little side-stepping to allow two other regulars, Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and his wise-cracking partner Gino Rolseth, to steal the show as they investigate the brutal and bizarre murders of three of their own during a record breaking blizzard.

Christmas and New Year are a memory and the Minnesota snowmobile and ski junkies are waiting impatiently for Mother Nature to deliver her usual record-breaking snowfall. Things begin looking up when forecasters predict a major dump - just in time for a local snowman-building contest. In a matter of a few hours, hundreds of kids have built dozens of fresh snowmen for the Winter Fest Snowman Sculpting Competition. And detectives Magozzi and Rolseth are decked out in Thinsulate to carry out their judging duties. But the childrens' happy shouts turn to cries of horror when the bodies of well-respected police officers are found stuffed inside two of the snowmen.

Meanwhile in a neighboring county, newly elected sheriff Iris Rikker's first day on the job proves a memorable one. Her alarm hasn't even gone off when she's notified that a body's been discovered inside a snowman just outside her office. Cognizant of what's happening in Minneapolis and certain the cases are linked, Rikker contacts Magozzi and Rolseth, who immediately head north in hopes of beating what's now become a blizzard. The detectives utilize every available resource, including the crack Monkeewrench team, but links between the three killings remain elusive. When the third body is identified as a parole officer whose last client, Kurt Weinback, has gone missing and is now presumed gunning for his estranged wife and child, all roads lead to Bitterroot. The highly secured site is a working village of about four hundred women and children whose very lives depend on the facility's state of the art security system - one that the Monkeewrench crew designed and installed, and that they've guaranteed will protect the inhabitants from abusive husbands and boyfriends. As the hunt widens for the elusive Weinbeck, and Grace and her crack team dig deeper into the history of Bitterroot, dark secrets emerge about the isolated facility and its original founders.

This well-written, innovative and thoroughly riveting puzzler should garner the authors even more critical acclaim. Not only have they written a marvelously original thriller, they've also taken a sensitive and thought-provoking look at one of society's most pervasive and objectionable problems - abuse of women and children. Snow Blind is a story you won't soon forget.

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