Review: Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly

Chasing The diMEMediocre 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.

Review: The Overlook by Michael Connelly

the-overlookTHE OVERLOOK began its existence as a sixteen-part narrative published in The New York Times Magazine, and it’s evident from the start that this is a very different Harry Bosch novel.

Despite the expansions and connective tissue added for its mass market release, THE OVERLOOK reflects its inaugural audience; it’s lean, it’s fast and it lacks much of the subtlety
Michael Connelly’s work is lauded for. Instead, it reads like an episode of 24, with a real focus on plot rather than rich characterization. But just because it doesn’t read like a traditional Bosch novel doesn’t make it unworthy of its place within the acclaimed series. If anything, it’s rather delightful seeing Connelly work different muscles using the same old characters, paring down on the facets of his writing that he’s renowned for. The trademark twists and turns are here; they’re just rapid-fire, bang-bang-bang, one after the other; relentless. This makes sense, given the gravity of the case Bosch is working, which has catastrophic implications for the entire city. Connelly smartly throws his protagonist into a situation we’ve not seen him face before, thereby validating the pace of the tale. It reads fast because Bosch needs to be fast to succeed.

As the successor to the masterpiece ECHO PARK, THE OVERLOOK doesn’t reach those heights. What we’ve got here is Michael Connelly stripped down; raw. This isn’t the best Bosch novel, but in terms of pure entertainment, it ranks right up there.