Mediocre isn’t a term I’ve ever associated with Michael Connelly, who is unquestionably one of my favourite authors, whose Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller novels I hold in the highest regard. But CHASING THE DIME isn’t one of his best.
Henry Pierce is a computer entrepreneur who is days away from announcing a major breakthrough in nanotechnology. Henry is a workaholic – he spends his days and nights in the lab – and as a result he’s broken up with his girlfriend. CHASING THE DIME opens with Henry having just moved into a new apartment. His phone has just been connected and immediately he starts receiving calls from men asking for Lilly. We – like Henry – instantly connect the dots. Lilly is – was? – a call-girl. But what happened to her? Where has she gone? Pierce investigates, because Lilly’s lifestyle reminds him of his dead sister’s plight, many years ago – and what follows is a convoluted tail of deceit and murder, which ends with a cacophony of gunshots.
Henry isn’t a particularly endearing protagonist. He’s not especially likeable, but nor is he totally unlikable; he’s just not very interesting, which is even worse. The world he inhabits is similarly dull; Connelly, usually so adept at subtly feeding readers information, delves into the mechanics of nanotechnology a little tactlessly – some paragraphs feel like information dumps, and are included only to prove the author did his research. The plot is complex, but it’s formulaic, and character motivations ultimately seem unrealistic. It’s never a good sign when a reader can feel the author steering events to their conclusion.