Review: Blood Work – Michael Connelly

My version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
 Allen & Unwin
First published: 2009
ISBN: 9781742371665
Pages: 456

From the cover:
“In Blood Work, Connelly introduces a new character, Terry McCaleb, who was a top man at the FBI until a heart ailment forced his early retirement. Now he lives a quiet life, nursing his new heart and restoring the boat on which he lives in Los Angeles Harbor. Although he isn’t looking for any excitement, when Graciela Rivers asks him to investigate her sister Gloria’s death, her story hooks him immediately: the new heart beating in McCaleb’s chest is Gloria’s.
As McCaleb investigates the evidence in the case, the suspected randomness of the crime gives way to an unsettling suspicion of a twisted intelligence behind the murder. Soon McCaleb finds himself on the trail of a killer more horrifying than anything he ever encountered before.”

The first thing I thought about this one, was that there’s more than a hint of The Rockford Files about it. Terry McCaleb used to be in the FBI, but now lives on a boat he’s slowly repairing, has had a heart transplant and has a slightly quirky mate living on a boat further along the marina. There isn’t a quirky father popping round, but his father is still a presence in his life.

The premis of the book is, that McCaleb has recently had a heart transplant. The donor, it seems was murdered and McCaleb gets contacted by the sister of the donor and asked to investigate her murder, as the Police seem to have drawn a blank and may, or may not, have put it to one side as merely a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ kind of crime. Initially reluctant, McCaleb eventually allows guilt and/or feelings for the sister and the orphaned son of his donor, to win him over and he begins to investigate using his previous experience, and not the least contacts, to slowly begin to realise that there is perhaps more to this than at first meets the eye.

Whilst I got this for free – I got first dibs on the collection of a friend of my father-in-law’s who died a year or so ago – I knew something of Michael Connelly before starting Blood Work. I remember reading one of his, The Poet, many years ago and whilst I couldn’t remember anything of the plot, I went into reading this with a good feeling and remembering that I had enjoyed that book, which was why I chose to take this book when offered after all.

Well, there’s no denying it’s nicely written and well-plotted and I developed some sympathy for McCaleb’s investigation, reasons and methods, there’s just too little happening over too long a period for it to be anything other than mildly diverting. It was only after around 250 pages that something(s) really started to happen. Now the strands will finally start coming together and making sense, I thought. But then I thought; what strands? Nothing I can think of so far that he has described often in almost pedantic detail could be worthy of being pulled together. But then, that could be a sign that instead of being overly long and a bit dull, Connelly has been unbelievably clever, pulled the wool over our eyes and is about to pull the rug out from our feet (think those two will work together)! Yes, that must be it. He’s actually a genius, when I was thinking he wasn’t.

However, the surprise, the ‘this is the who and the why’ wasn’t that much of a surprise. Not worthy of all the struggle and the investigation and the pages and pages of minutiae I had waded through. Not a slamming the book on the old coffee table, with a series of expletive deletes of surprise – as has happened before recently and as the wife has grown to love…As well plotted as it is, it is rather, how can I put it, emotionlessly done? Rather like putting a difficult, 10,000 piece jig-saw together, than getting swept up on a wave of emotion and logical progressions before being dropped from a great height onto the beach of realisation…erm… I felt it should have been more of a roller coaster – than a slow train – to an ending and a shocking revelation of who it was that had done it and why. Someone we’d overlooked in the course of reading? Someone we’d forgotten about or dismissed? I just thought that the final revealing and the after the event, had a little too much of the ‘meh’ to it.

If you’re a Michael Connelly fan, this wouldn’t I guess, disappoint. If you’re not, it probably isn’t the best place to start. Good job I got it free.

You can buy Blood Work from The Book Depository

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