Michael Connelly

"Chasing the Dime"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer SEP 9, 2002)

"Pierce closed the message and then the file. Someday he planned to print out the whole scroll of messages and read it like a novel. He knew it would be a very common, very usual story of how a man's obsession led him to lose the thing that was most important to him. If it were a novel he would call it Chasing the Dime."

Henry Pierce knows how obsession can extract a toll. His obsession for chasing the dime, which is slang for creating the tiniest computer possible, has cost him the woman he loves. His long hours working on molecules to create the nano computers created a huge rift in their relationship, and so he's taken his clothes and moved into a new apartment. He's filled it with new furniture; got a new telephone number. His first night home, he checks his phone messages and discovers that eight of nine calls all inquire after a woman named Lilly. From the way the men speak, from the phone numbers he sees on his caller ID, he realizes that Lilly is probably a prostitute. Soon his obsessive ways will turn him to another, much deadlier puzzle. Who is Lilly, and what has happened to her?

No one can understand why he needs to discover her fate. His search makes him a major suspect in Lilly's disappearance, and soon he no longer needs to know if there is an off chance he can save her...he needs to know how to save himself.

Read excerptAt first I wasn't all that sure why Henry was trying to solve this mystery, either. He has a lot more to lose than gain, but he has problems with his past, guilt over the fact he couldn't save his own sister. The more he learns about Lilly, the more he sees parallels between the two women, parallels that refuse to let him go. This makes it completely believable that a man who positively cannot benefit from this situation continues to plunge on. One of the wondrous elements of this book comes from this search, because as he learns about Lilly, of course, so do we, and as I learned about her, I found myself really liking her. It is a rare and nearly impossible feat to create a character that is so well done that even though she never shows up physically in this book, she is just as strong and interesting a character as Henry is. This is also an important point because my liking for her made the story more immediate to me. So often the victim isn't really known to us, outside of the details as pertain to the actual murder. This is fine usually because the author is after other things. It was an essential move on Connelly's part because this closeness to Lilly gives both the reader and the main character plenty of motivation to get to the end of things. I was completely involved with the story, and, once again, Connelly wrote an ending that took me completely by surprise.

Connelly has been becoming increasingly popular, and not without good reason. In Chasing the Dime, as he did in Blood Work, Connelly takes an entirely innovative idea and runs with it, creating a story that is hard to put down. The more I read him, the more I enjoy him, and hope that he continues to offer us such fascinating stories.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 246 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Chasing the Dime at MostlyFiction.com

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"Blood Work"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer AUG 26, 2002)

"She raised her hand but reached past the photo he was still holding out to her. She placed her palm on his chest and ran it down the front of his shirt, her fingers tracing the thick rope of scar beneath. He let her do it. He stood there frozen and let her do it.

"'Your heart,' she said. 'It was my sister's. She was the one who saved your life.'"

Terrell McCabe was the best profiler the FBI ever had. He understood people and their actions --- an understanding that lead to empathy for the victims, an empathy that cost him his heart. Now recovering from a heart transplant surgery, the last thing he wants to do is re-enter the very world that caused the need for the transplant in the first place. When Graciella Rivers comes to call, she begs him to help find who murdered her sister. The police aren't doing much, because it looks like Gloria, her sister, was simply another victim of a convenience store hold up. She read an article on him in the newspaper, and realized that he was the only person who would be able to help. He politely tells her that he can't, he's still on anti-rejection medicines, and his car is wrapped up securely because the doctors don't want him to use it. If he has a small accident, the impact of the airbag on his chest could kill him. She will not be dissuaded, for she feels he has a personal investment in her sister's death, and she tells him the one thing that will convince him.

She tells him whom his heart belonged to.

Shocked by this, he agrees to help her. He visits the police, and they reluctantly let him watch the surveillance tape from the robbery. He realizes immediately that the murder is the first order of business, that the theft of cash is secondary. He continues his investigations, and discovers that this isn't the first killing made out to be the unfortunate by-product of a robbery.

In Blood Work, Michael Connelly creates an entirely different feel to the crime novel. In the first place, McCabe's heart condition creates a new set of rules for the hero of the book to follow. In most novels, the physical harm that comes to the protagonist is the threat of the antagonist discovering that the main character's on his trail. It's what creates a major part of the tension. In this story, that tension is over ridden, replaced by a more pressing worry...the danger to McCabe comes from his own body, which has already betrayed him, and the pressure the investigative procedure places on his already fragile state. In short, we worry about him more. This aspect is always there; in the mind-boggling amounts of medicine he has to take, in the temperance of his actions. It doesn't make him any less of a detective; in fact this handicap only seems to make him stronger, and more believable and sympathetic to the reader.

Graciella, after the initial pressure she places on McCabe, becomes a strong main female character. She doesn't push him anymore, content to help with the investigation as she can. This pleased me, because if she had continued to push him throughout the chapters, I would have had a very hard time liking her.

Another aspect of McCabe's weakness that makes the book better: because he needs to hitch rides, and such, we are introduced to a wider array of characters. None of these characters have a throw away feel, each and everyone has his or her own personality and set of interesting quirks that makes one feel as if one is walking down the street and meeting real people along the way. I liked that Connelly was so scrupulous in making each character special, no matter how short a page life.

Connelly doesn't rely on this one clever turn to keep the story going. The mystery itself is excellent. I was a bit surprised at the ending...I've been reading tons of mysteries in these past few years, in kind of an analytical fashion, and the fact that he surprised me is really cool. It's getting rarer, and I really admire the fact that he was able to cleverly mislead me to believe that a totally different person committed the crime.

This book was originally published in 1998. It has been reissued to coincide with the Clint Eastwood movie. I'm looking forward to see how the book and the movie compare, especially since I happened to see Clint Eastwood on TV, advertising this film before I began reading the book, then ended up hearing Eastwood's voice in my head the whole time.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 198 reviews

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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

LAPD Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch Series

Mickey Haller:


* Terry McCaleb is in these novels
** Harry Bosch is in these novels
*** The Poet is in these novels.
****Mickey Haller is in this novel


Movies from Books:


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Book Marks:

Reviews of stand-alone Michael Connelly books:

Reviews of lawyer Mickey Haller books:

Reviews of Harry Bosch books:


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About the Author:

Micahel ConnellyMichael Connelly graduated from the University of Florida with a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing and went on to work for major newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale. After being shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize, Connelly was snatched up by the LA Times and began to work the crime beat in the city his literary hero Raymond Chandler had immortalized. His first novel, The Black Echo, written three years later, went on to win the Edgar Award for best first novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly's books have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Nero, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France) and Grand Prix (France) awards. Michael was also one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000.

Connelly lives with his wife and daughter in Florida.

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