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(Monkeewrench #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  10,148 ratings  ·  863 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 th
Paperback, 373 pages
Published April 14th 2003 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York (first published 2003)
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Shelley Yes in Australia it was published as Want to Play other countries too I think.
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,148 ratings  ·  863 reviews

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James Thane
One of the advantages of belonging to a good book club, in addition to the camaraderie and the great food and booze every month, is that you occasionally wind up reading and enjoying very much a book that otherwise would have flown under your radar. And such is the case here.

For a long time I've been vaguely aware of the mother-daughter writing team, P. J. Tracy, but for whatever reason, I'd never picked up one of their books. Then this month, one of my book clubs picked Monkeewrench, the first
May 25, 2015 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
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the first in a series, much of this book is spent introducing the various characters. What an assortment they are, too. It was fun, although slow going at times, getting to know them. I haven't looked at Book #2 yet and have no idea which characters will carry over. I'll let that be a surprise.

In addition to the characters, two storylines are followed. One takes place in Calumet, Wisconsin and the other in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two police departments investigate multiple murders. Also invol
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
After a long waiting period, I was nudged in the direction of this series, promised that it would be full of both excitement and strong writing. I was not disappointed and think I may have found a binge-worthy series to begin the summer months. The murder of an older couple as they pray in church has Wisconsin authorities baffled, with few leads and a police force scratching their heads. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth have a new case that has the entire Homici ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
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
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A new computer game is out for beta testing. Serial Killer Detective is a new venture for Monkeewrench, a Minneapolis software company. The company has produced educational software for years and is attempting to expand into more adult video games. But a copy cat murderer starts killing people and posing the bodies just like the crime scenes depicted in the new game. The killer sends cryptic, threatening messages to the staff at Monkeewrench after each murder. Turns out the software nerds are hi ...more
Mary JL
Mar 07, 2009 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-
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Want To Play? (also titled Monkeewrench) is the first book in the best-selling Monkeewrench series by award-winning American mother-daughter writing duo, P J Tracy. At their office in Minneapolis, the owners of software firm Monkeewrench are almost ready to launch their new game, Serial Killer Detective (SKUD). Over five hundred gamers have been trying out the game on their test site, and advance sales are encouraging. They’re doing some final stage tweaking when they learn of a murder at Lakewo ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
So good! I want to start book two real soon!
Marty Fried
This was a very entertaining book, with a good mix of mystery, police work, technology, and humor. If not for my GR friends, I don't think I ever would have come across this winner.

I liked the people in the story, mostly, although some names were a bit unusual and it took me a while to remember who was who. The plot was tricky as nobody knows anything about the perpetrator, not even whether it was a male or a female.

There were several murders happening, and at first, the first one, in Northern
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book some years ago and totally loved it. I would like to say a huge thanks to Scott who just reminded me that I had read this book. I highly recommend it.
Feb 08, 2014 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
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
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, mystery, 2016
I started the day with a failed assault on Stephen King's Mr Mercedes, which according to the great man is his first attempt at writing a hard boiled detective novel. Unfortunately King chooses to spend too much time recounting the to and fro of the daytime tv that has his detective toying with the idea of suicide. I cracked, dropped the book, picked up another. Great decision.
Monkeewrench does nearly everything wrong but somehow turns out to be a winner. The plot revolves around a computer gam
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
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
May 11, 2014 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.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: James Thane of GR's positive review
Shelves: fiction, thriller
In the interview at the end of this book, the co-authors, P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, declare their love for creating characters. That sentiment is evinced in MONKEEWRENCH, a thriller that connects a small-town sheriff's office in Wisconsin, a squad of homicide detectives in Minneapolis, and a tight-knit crew of computer game designers working out of a warehouse loft.

Calumet, Wisconsin is the kind of rural town where everyone is familiar with each other by name if not in person. That setting is re
Jun 03, 2011 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
Nov 28, 2010 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
Jan 14, 2016 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
Jan 06, 2009 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
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The original title was 'Want to Play?'

Should have been 5 stars because the quality of writing is excellent and enjoyable and it is set in Minnesota which I love. However the plot has 2 irritating problems.

Monkeewrench is the name of a company run by 5 computer geniuses who develop a computer game involving the hunt for a serial killer. While they are in the process of testing the game, a serial killer starts emulating the game.

The first problem with the plot is that the description of Grace and
Gloria Mccracken
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a seriously exciting book. A group of brilliant misfits have invented a computer game that features a clever serial killer. Things get way too interesting when murders start happening that mimic the first bunch of murders in the game. Coincidence? Get real. Since when does any self-respecting thriller put any credence in coincidences. But the question is: Does this have anything to do with the secrets in their various pasts.

Several rather unlikely premises to the plot, but still a rip-s
Mar 24, 2011 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
P.J. Tracy – 1st book
An unpopular, troublemaking old couple are brutally murdered in a small Wisconsin town church. While Wisconsin Sheriff Michael Halloran and Deputy Bonar Carlson are working to solve their case, in the Minnesotan Twin cities, Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth, are dealing with a serial killer is copying a computer game where 20 murders happen. The games’ designers, a social outcast group whose company is called Monkeewrench, have their own issues and pa
Linda Bakker-Zwakhals
It was fast paced and an entertaining read. I liked the male characters in this book a lot because they are down to earth and easy going. The FMC was a little bit harder for to understand but that is no surprise as she suffered from intense paranoia and with good reason. The best thing was I thought I had figured out who the killer was halfway through the book and in the last 20 pages I learned that I was wrong and that I was right and it totally made my head spin. I will put book number 2 on my ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the idea of a serial killer taking his/her ideas from a computer game, especially one not even released yet. A very modern thriller, well written and thoroughly enjoyable to read. The characters are well conceived and believable and the storyline easy to follow and fast paced enough to keep your interest without going to fast as to confuse the reader.
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story at first had me semi-frustrated, trying to figure out what was what. An elderly couple killed in a church in Wisconsin leads to...what? A jogger killed in Minneapolis....a group of friends launching an on-line serial killer game....cop Leo vs. maybe bad girl Grace....people murdered in a small college in Georgia 10 years before...

When I got up to speed, I really enjoyed the give-and-get dialogue from the cops and Monkeewrench software folks. Good police procedural and cerebral whoduni
Michael Brown
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series-reading
A very disturbing story. Some cliché aspects of police, priests, computer geeks (nerds) and basic crime stories run through this tale with just as many comic and deadly threads. We are given some clues early and throughout but the final gotcha comes at the right point at the end. I liked the main computer characters and as we came to understand their quirks we liked them better. But the cops are harder to get into until we have had a lot more exposure to them. One is harping all along that the c ...more
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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 eight novels, MONKEEWRENCH, LIVE BAIT, DEAD RUN, SNOW BLIND, SHOOT TO THRILL, OFF THE GRID, THE SIXTH IDEA, and NOTHING STAYS BURIED have become national and international bestsellers. PJ passed away in December 2016, but Traci continues to wri ...more

Other books in the series

Monkeewrench (10 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)
  • Nothing Stays Buried (Monkeewrench, #8)
  • The Guilty Dead (Monkeewrench, #9)
  • Ice Cold Heart (Monkeewrench, #10)
“They passed a bank thermometer that read twenty degrees, but from the cold air blowing into the car, Halloran thought that was pretty optimistic. He’d heard once that all the thermometers in Minnesota were calibrated ten degrees high, just to keep the population from moving en masse.” 0 likes
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