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Want To Play?
P.J. Tracy
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Want To Play? (Monkeewrench #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,355 Ratings  ·  604 Reviews
Haunted by a series of horrifying and violent episodes in their past, Grace McBride and the oddball crew of her software company, Monkeewrench, create a computer game where the killer is always caught, where the good guys always win. But their game becomes a nightmare when someone starts duplicating the fictional murders in real life, down to the last detail.

By the time
Paperback, 496 pages
Published 2003 by Penguin books
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 22, 2015 Phrynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to give this one full marks for a story which held me engrossed from page 1 to page 421. I loved it and read it in practically one sitting. The story was good, it was clever and it delivered. The characters were well written and interacted well. There was humour and there was suspense. What more can you ask for in a good crime novel apart from a surprise at the end. Well I got that too because the killer was not who I expected:) All in all this was a top read for me and I cannot wait t ...more
This debut novel is based on a clever idea which is very well executed. Monkeewrench are a team of computer game developers who have just designed a new game called 'Serial Killer Detective' in which players get to play detective by having access to all the forensic clues and crime scene evidence for a series of 20 imaginative murders. The trouble is someone has copied the first two murders and reproduced the crime scenes exactly and the police must figure out who before too many more murders ar ...more
Mary JL
Mar 07, 2009 Mary JL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any mystery fan
Recommended to Mary JL by: A gift from John D.
Shelves: mystery-horror
Almost did not read this one--I got it as a gift and the title sounded odd. Glad I did not make that mistake!!!

It is a novel about a group of colorful characters who own a software development company called Monkeewrench. Branching out from their education software, the team is devising a new game--"Serial Killer Detective".

It soon becomes obvious that a serial killer is mimicking all of the murders in the game--playing with real victims. The Minneapolis police are very skeptical and suspicious-
Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
This mother-daugher duo is fantastic! I absolutely love the quirky cast of characters and they are all computer geeks which is my forte so I was so excited to find a good tech based mystery series! I remember when I first read this series I was so dissapointed that they had only written four or five books so far because I just wanted to keep on reading them. If you're tried of your run of the mill mysteries and want something with a little flaire you should check this one out. I guarantee you'll ...more
Jane Stewart
It’s not bad, but I had some problems with it. It’s interesting enough to pass the time if you like murder mysteries.

Monkeewrench is the name of a software company that creates computer games. There are five partners. Ten years ago something happened that caused all of them to change their names, move to Minnesota, live in secured homes, and carry guns. Their new game, just released, is about a serial killer with twenty crime scenes. A real life serial killer has just killed two peop
Jan 14, 2016 Shaun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
3.5 bumped up to 4 mainly because the writing and the story-line showed competence even if the characters were lacking.

I came soooooo close to abandoning this one. The characters (and there were many) just lacked substance and fit every TV crime drama stereotype you can imagine. To make matters worse, all the characters sounded the same, or rather I couldn't imagine the characters speaking as I read, but instead heard one single voice, the author's, or rather authors' since P.J. Tracy is a mothe
Janie Johnson
Apr 14, 2015 Janie Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
I picked this book up of the sales rack in our local Used books store. I picked it up solely on the cover design and when I read the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it. This also has a sequel called Live Bait that I also plan to read in the near future.

In this book we have the murder of a couple who were killed in a pew in the church they attended. While the police try to find out 'whodunit' Grace MacBride and her company MonkeeWrench have their own problems going on when they discover that rec
Dec 06, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of mystery, thrillers and suspense
Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre
Trigger Warnings: Violence, serial murder

My Thoughts: Thanks to my coworker all those years ago, I was introduced to this excellent series (as well as another of my favorites, the Lucas Davenport mysteries by John Sandford, but that’s another review) and started buying the rest of them as they came out. There are currently six books available in this series, which I will review in the coming days, wi
This book took me by surprise. I haven’t read/listened to a mystery for awhile and I forgot how fun they can be. The setting for this book is northern rural Wisconsin and Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota. I happen to love this setting because I know it and in books set in locations that are in a way off beat (like not in New York City or London), make the story more accessible to me. But I am also a midwest gal, so I get a giddy feeling everytime I realize the book I am reading takes place in an ...more
Mar 29, 2011 D.G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to D.G. by: Nita
Really good mystery with an amazing cast of characters. I think I liked everybody but Grace. The book didn't get 5 stars because I figured out the murderer from the beginning. :)

The narrator was really good. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like him (he has a bit of a gravely voice) but once the book got underway, I realized he was a great choice. More than 80% of the characters in the book are male and he did an awesome job with the different voices.

I loved how this book portrayed the cops
Sep 22, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this mystery about a serial killer has decided to play out the murders from a computer game. There were some great characters and not a lot of gore.
Dec 29, 2009 Marleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Second review (Dec. 09)
I decided to re-read this one because I really wanted to relive all the details of the Sharon Mueller & Mike Halloran connection. I think those two are simply adorable!
In any case, this remains a very good read with fantastic dialogues and truer than life characters.

First review in March 2009 -
Highly enjoyable and suspenseful read! And what clever writing!!
This book has all the ingredients I look for in a terrific read: a storyline that keeps you on the edge of your
Dec 13, 2010 Keri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The saying goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But when people start dying exactly like Grace dreamed them up for her company, Monkeewrench's hottest new video game, she is not flattered. As a matter of fact she is terrified, because it appears she or someone she loves could be the next target.

This was such an awesome read! If you are looking for a something without a lot of over the top violence then this book may be for you. There were murders, but they were handled with fi
The owners of the software company, Monkeewrench, have created a new computer game called Serial Killer Detective and it's out in limited release. The problem is, someone is simulating the murders in the game in real life. They're reluctant to tell the Minneapolis police of the game's connection to these murders because it might expose pasts they'd like to keep under wraps.

This was an interesting story and premise with likable characters, especially the law enforcement teams. Their repartee was
Mar 11, 2012 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first in a series about Grace, two Mpls cops, her software gang, and assorted other characters, like Sheriff Michael Halloran, or “Mickey” as Father Newberry calls him, and Deputy Bonar Carlson whose belt hung so low it would never see his belly button and who “ would have to kneel to reach his gun.”

It begins quite humorously, with Father Newberry trying to keep down the last creation of the well-meaning Sister Ignatius attempting to serve him with a “proper meal” which in that part of Wisco
Apr 29, 2009 Dorie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
P.J. and Traci Lambrecht are the mother/daughter writing team behind this fantastic debut novel.
A group of five friends with a mysterious past have banded together to create the company ‘Monkeewrench’, a successful software company in Minneapolis. Instead of their usual educational software, they’ve developed ‘Serial Killer Detective’, a game about a series of 20 unique murders. The horrors of their past come back to haunt the five technogeeks when a killer strikes out to recreate the murders i
May 03, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great new mystery/thriller series. We're right in the heart of the matter when both sets of crimes takes place in two states: Minnesota and Wisconsin. We're introduced to Grace and the Monkeewrench crew--all have secrets to hide and covering their tracks--when they develop a new computer game that's causing tons of publicity--the bad kind. We really feel the pain, when someone's imitating life after their computer graphic art. We follow their footsteps, heading right into danger, when ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the light murder mystery set
Hey, I'm in the middle of it, so how the heck should I know, but so far, it's a page turner. I bought it at a salvation army store closing sale because it was like 50 cents. It's a murder mystery.

Alright. I finished it. It continued to be a page turner, til the end, even though I had pretty well guessed (but you don't know) who the murderer was. It may have actually dropped a half a star to 3.5 in rating in the last 20 pages because, with half a dozen people already dead, one of the ch
Feb 11, 2016 Ginger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is my type of mystery. suspense, good mystery, hard to put down, not easily figured out, easy read.
Maureen DeLuca
Feb 14, 2016 Maureen DeLuca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a great new series... people are dying -- then it is discovered that it is the same way as a computer is worth the read, FOR SURE! I know, I give an awful review about what the book is about, especially in detail--- but a great read- interesting read and most looking forward to the next series..... xxx
Wanda Hartzenberg
Jan 20, 2014 Wanda Hartzenberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This is an amazing book where I admired the technical competency of the author as much as I loved the plot.
I used to think that I would not enjoy a book once I learn how to read it critically, this book proved me wrong. If the plot is strong enough as with this story, and the characters are so vibrant and alive as they are in this book, if the plot is as engaging the theme so subtle and the world building so extraordinary then I apparently I do enjoy a book even if I read it critically.
Grace Mac
Feb 08, 2014 Books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Forget whatever book you’re planning on reading next. Want to Play by P.J. Tracy is what you should be reading next. If it was a movie, it would’ve been a blockbuster for sure. At the risk of sounding like my mother, I’m just going to straight out declare that this is what I miss about books from them “good ol’ days”. Remember those books we read in the eighties and nineties where authors, publishers, and their editorial teams actually still took the time to create exceptional characters and int ...more
Chris Jackson
I am not a huge reader of stock and trade murder mysteries, so I don't know a lot of the conventions that are typical of this genre. I enjoyed the story, liked most of the characters, though I got a little tired of the stereotype "lonely good cop with fat loveable partner" of which there are two in this story. Also, there is no single star protagonist, which bothers me. I want a focus, and this just won't let me decide who I'm rooting for.

Next bit I had trouble with was the way the authors put i
Sep 15, 2010 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library-book
This is apparently the opening book in the Tracy "Monkeewrench" series, but it doesn't read like one. It reads like a standalone. It opens with a murder in rural Wisconsin, two members of the Catholic church, shot at church while praying. Then it shifts to Minneapolis. (Or St. Paul--don't exactly remember which--I'm not up on those far Northern cities.) There, we meet Grace, who carries a gun in the pocket of her robe even when sitting in the back yard. And we meet the police detective who gets ...more
Connie N.
Very suspenseful book about a bunch of computer geeks who create a game about a serial killer, but a real maniac starts killing people in exactly the same way as the game and in the same order. Despite all the warning, the police are having a difficult time catching the criminal. On top of that mystery, the computer people all have secrets in their past that they've hidden behind computer firewalls, deleting their pasts except for the past 10 years. The characters are enjoyable, the cops all hav ...more
Yep, this book is still that good after all this time. I love the characters, I love how well this book is put together, plot, editing, everything. I love how it can make me smile in one moment and feel the devastastion that is there in almost all of the characters in the next.

Even the fact that I actually vaguely remembered whodunnit but not why didn't put a dent in my enjoyment.

Funny thing, of course is, how obvious those paltry 13 years since it was first published are with regard to technolo
Oct 15, 2014 Hayleigh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't quite pinpoint what I thought about this book. Overall for me there were way too many characters in which I feel I could not connect with at all. i.e. If you were to ask me to tell you a description of personality and give you a visual of each character, I would really struggle. I feel the lead up was extremely long winded and introduced way too many new characters for me to even think about connecting the plots together.
The ending felt rushed and finished rather quickly considering it
Dec 27, 2011 Ashlee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two words.... LOVED IT!

I listen to this on Audio book in my car (I have an hour travel to work sometimes) and I couldn't get enough of it. Even when my borrowed copy had a scratch on the last disc, I even reserved another copy, just so I could finish it and find out who the murderer was.
The characters are funny and very very... real. They don't alwats react to events like you would expect, because people don't always react that way in real life. You can tell Grace is afraid of something from he
I don't remember who recommended this one to me, but whoever it was thanks! This book was a suspenseful thriller, that had the reader following a crazy killer who decided to copy the murders featured in a new video game. The creators of the video game (the company is called Monkeewrench) warn police that they know which murder is coming next, but can the police stop the copycat before it's too late?

The best part of this book for me was the members of the Monkeewrench team. They are a really quir
Feb 02, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vickie, Marty, Sally
What a delightful surprise! This police procedural mystery is realistically set in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Anyone with any familiarity with that part of the country will immediately recognize the speech patterns and some stereotypical characters. Yet the plot is anything but stereotypical. Someone is murdering people, following the plot of a new video game that is in the pre-release stage. The creators of the game are an especially unusual group of geeks, who have past secrets of their own. Yet ...more
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Where Are The Authors? 2 12 Mar 10, 2016 05:15PM  
Fiction Fanatics: September 2015 - Monkeewrench 33 27 Sep 26, 2015 03:20PM  
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PJ Tracy is the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards. Their six novels, MONKEEWRENCH, LIVE BAIT, DEAD RUN, SNOW BLIND, SHOOT TO THRILL and OFF THE GRID have become national and international bestsellers.

THE SIXTH IDEA, the latest installment in the Monkeewrench series, will be released in the U.S. on A
More about P.J. Tracy...

Other Books in the Series

Monkeewrench (7 books)
  • Live Bait (Monkeewrench, #2)
  • Dead Run (Monkeewrench, #3)
  • Snow Blind (Monkeewrench, #4)
  • Shoot to Thrill (Monkeewrench, #5)
  • Off the Grid (Monkeewrench, #6)
  • The Sixth Idea (Monkeewrench, #7)

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