The misfit computer geeks of Monkeewrench Software are called in to reopen a missing person case that rapidly blossoms, as if in response to their involvement, into a case of serial homicide.
Veterinary tech Marla Gustafson was so kindhearted that she wept over a rabbit she’d run over. So when her car, abandoned near a large bloodstain on a road in her rural hometown of Buttonwillow, shows no signs of mechanical failure, her father, Walt, feels certain she stopped to offer someone help and never returned. In the two months since she vanished, Detective Leo Magozzi and his colleagues on Minneapolis Homicide keep expecting to find some clue that links her death to that of Megan Lynn, a jogger found last May in Powderhorn Park with an ace of spades tucked into her clothing. But that clue has never materialized because Marla’s body has stubbornly refused to appear. So Walt and Magozzi join in asking Harley Davidson and the rest of the Monkeewrench crew to lend a hand. As Annie Belinsky and Roadrunner duly note, the quartet wouldn’t usually think of taking on a case like this, but their fourth member, Grace MacBride, happens to be carrying Magozzi’s child, and it’s hard to say no to him. Nodding gamely to each other, the gang fires up their state-of-the-art mobile computer lab and gets to work. Their quarry, meantime, seems bent on breaking the speed record for serial murder. When the body of General Mills executive Charlotte Wells is discovered in another local park along with a four of spades, investigators have to wonder what happened to spades two and three—especially after two more corpses turn up marked with the five and six of spades.
Despite all the high tech and ballyhoo, the mother-and-daughter team writing as Tracy give their once formidable foursome (The Sixth Idea, 2016) practically nothing to do in the way of either detective work or antic byplay and provide virtually no surprises along the way. Sad.