Book Review: DESOLATION CANYON by P. J. Tracy

DESOLATION CANYON by P.J. Tracy book cover

Desolation Canyon, Detective Margaret Nolan #2, by P. J. Tracy
ISBN: 9781250754950 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250830197 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250845498 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09557MV5Z (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B092T9QHCS (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Page Count: 320
Release Date: January 18, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Mystery

P.J. Tracy “seems to have found her literary sweet spot” (New York Times Book Review) with her dazzling new series, and in Desolation Canyon, fans get a deeper look into the complex characters who call Los Angeles home.

LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan is struggling to move forward after the death of her brother in Afghanistan and taking a life in the line of duty. Her stoic parents offer little support – they refuse to address anything difficult, and she’s afraid their relationship is eroding beyond the point of recovery.

The days off are the hardest, because they give Margaret time to think. A moment of weakness leads to cocktails with a colleague—an attraction she knows could be dangerous —at the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air bar. A stroll through the grounds leads to a grim discovery beneath the surface of Swan Lake: the body of a successful attorney who made his fortune in international trade.

It initially appears to be death by misadventure, but the case is anything but straightforward. As a series of shocking revelations emerge, Nolan finds herself confronting a sinister cabal that just might destroy her and everyone she loves.


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Good day, book people. Although it’s a new year with plenty of new books and new-to-me authors to discover, I find myself leaning in on reading favorite authors. I’ve been hooked on the writings of P.J. Tracy since reading Monkeewrench and the subsequent books in that series. Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that a new series was beginning last year and devoured Deep Into the Dark. I’m eternally grateful that I was given the opportunity to read the second book in this series, Desolation Canyon. I enjoy smart, taut, and well-written mystery or suspense thrillers, especially those involving realistic characters, like LAPD Detective Margaret “Maggie” Nolan. This time around Maggie has to deal with the apparent suicide of a divorced attorney that is ruled murder by poisoning, a subsequent murder and torture of the attorney’s ex-wife, “…kidnappings past and present, a Russian import-export company, and maybe the Russian Mob up in Death Valley hiding behind a cult. Oh, and nerve gas…” One of the kidnappings is personally tied to Detective Remy Boudreau, a possible love interest for Maggie. And if that’s not enough, her mother is visiting the “cult” to deal with the grief over her deceased son. The big question seems to be if Maggie and friends can tie everything together without getting any of the innocent bystanders hurt or worse.

Desolation Canyon introduces us to a host of characters in addition to Maggie Nolan and Sam Easton from Deep Into the Dark. We get to know Maggie’s parents, York and Emily Nolan, a bit better and understand how and why they opt to deal with their grief in a certain manner. Maggie’s partner, Al Crawford, is featured a bit more in this story, as well as the pathologist Dr. Weil, and a private investigator hired by Remy Boudreau, Malachai Dubnik. Ms. Tracy takes the reader through a variety of twists and turns while introducing the Russian Mob angle, along with the money laundering, reverse money laundering (yes, it’s a thing), and more. Desolation Canyon features kidnapping, poisoning, murder, torture, trafficking, and more. Yes, it’s a lot to throw at the reader, but it works. It might not be possible to see how all of the puzzle pieces will fit, but Ms. Tracy does a fantastic job of putting everything together to provide the reader with a picture-perfect resolution. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for stories that feature a group of characters working together even if it’s an ever-changing cast of characters. Police officers/detectives don’t work in isolation and it’s always nice to see books reflecting this fact. It takes a village to raise a child and it usually takes a team to solve crimes. Desolation Canyon has plenty of crimes and a great team working together to solve them. If you enjoy reading thrillers or if you read Deep Into the Dark, then I encourage you to grab a copy of Desolation Canyon to read. For those of you not sure about thrillers, I suggest you grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark and Desolation Canyon to read. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next for Maggie Nolan and her friends.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 270: ICE COLD HEART by P. J. Tracy

Ice Cold Heart, Monkeewrench #10, by P. J. Tracy 
ISBN: 9781643851327 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781643851334 (ebook)
ASIN: B07NTX8TGH (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 10, 2019 
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books


On a bitterly cold winter night, Kelly Ramage leaves her suburban home, telling her husband she’s going to meet a friend.

She never comes back.

When her body is discovered, murdered in what seems to be a sex game gone horribly wrong, Detectives Gino and Magozzi take the case, expecting to find a flirtatious trail leading straight to the killer.

However, Kelly’s sinister lover has done a disturbingly good job of hiding his identity. This isn’t his first victim – and that she won’t be the last…





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Grace MacBride and Leo Magozzi are enjoying a quiet winter with their lovely five-month-old daughter, Elizabeth. The Monkeewrench gang are also having a blast spoiling the daughter, aka princess, of their friend as well, especially Annie Belinsky and Harley Davidson. Roadrunner, yes that’s his legal name, enjoys the baby, but isn’t quite sure what to do with her just yet. The Monkeewrench team is working on a cryptocurrency theft, while Magozzi and his police partner, Gino Rolseth, are delighting in a homicide-free break. Of course, as soon as Magozzi says he’s enjoying the homicide-free break, a homicide occurs and it does so right after a so-called psychic comes into the station to forwarn him and Gino of an impending murder. The victim was apparently exploring a BDSM relationship outside the boundaries of her marriage and was found handcuffed to a bed, tortured, and her head wrapped in duct tape. The strange thing was that there were no signs of an apparent sexual component. When Magozzi and Gino discover that there was a similar crime over a thousand miles away and it appeared to be linked to an art show that their victim attended they begin to wonder if this is one coincidence too many. Just when it seems like there are too many coincidences and random occurrences happening with this case, Roadrunner saves the life of one of his neighbors who just happens to be a friend of the psychic who just happens to be the next murder victim. What does this all have to do with the strange and twisted art of one seriously introverted artist? What, if anything, ties all of this to a sadistic war criminal in the former Czech Republic? What does cryptocurrency have to do with any of this? Will Magozzi, Gino, and the Monkeewrench crew be able to figure things out before someone else dies or is this criminal too smart and too fast to be caught?

Grace, Annie, Harley, and Roadrunner have come a long way since the first book in the Monkeewrench series. They are all a bit more trusting of law enforcement and willing to work with agencies across the United States by offering free software to help these agencies stop and capture criminals. Grace is in a stable, romantic relationship and has softened quite a bit since the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth. She still carries a firearm with her at all times, but she’s down to one gun instead of two (massive improvement). Annie and Harley are still at the bickering push-pull stage of their relationship and it is questionable if it will ever develop into anything beyond that. Roadrunner has remained an enigma throughout these books and remains so, but Ice Cold Heart reveals a bit more about his background and softens him quite a bit with his attraction to his neighbor, Petra. Magozzi and Gino are the perfect cop partnership in that they complement one another in almost every way, know each other’s weaknesses, and have one another’s backs when necessary. Ice Cold Heart is the tenth book in the Monkeewrench series and the characters now seem like old friends. I enjoyed the international component to this story with the vicious and sadistic Czech war criminal, the incorporation of the cryptocurrency theft, and of course the ever popular murder, mayhem, mischief, and mystery. For those of you that have read and enjoyed the previous books in the Monkeewrench series, I encourage you to grab a copy of Ice Cold Heart to read. For those of you that have never read the Monkeewrench series but enjoy reading topical mystery thrillers that incorporate a bit of high-tech to spice things up, then I encourage you to add all of the books in this series to your TBR list. I hope there will be more to read in the Monkeewrench series in the future. You know how much I love to reread books, so yes you guessed it, I’ll have to comfort myself by re-reading the entire series from book 1, Monkeewrench through to book 10, Ice Cold Heart while I wait. I only hope you enjoy this series as much as I do. Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”