Ran across Blood Work yesterday afternoon and started rereading it after I went looking for another book in my library. I just started flipping through pages and decided to do a quick reread. I’d read BLOOD WORK a few years ago and enjoyed it fully. In fact, this is _the_ novel that got me hooked on Michael Connelly’s work.
BLOOD WORK is one of those police procedural’s that starts off slow and unassuming. You have what appears to be a random crime that turns out to be not so random. I just love stories that appear to be more than what they seem on the surface. All it takes is the right pull of the thread to watch it all start unraveling.
Ex-FBI agent, Terry McCaleb is recovering from having heart transplant surgery. He is now on disability leave from the bureau and is enjoying life as a fisherman these days. His retirement and recovery time is soon interrupted, however, when a stranger asks him to investigate the shooting death of a woman at a convenient store in LA.
The stranger is a woman name Graciela Rivers. She’s a nurse who has figured out that McCaleb was the recipient donor of her sister’s heart. She asks McCaleb to investigate the death of her sister since the case hasn’t garnered any leads or suspects. She sees him as her last hope for closure.
McCaleb is naturally, caught off guard by the woman’s request but he listens, thinks it over and then decides, against doctor’s orders, to look into the case out of a sense of obligation to the dead sister. As he investigates though, things are not looking random at all and to say more would be to spoil the story for you so I will stop there.
BLOOD WORK builds up nice and slow before picking up speed towards the end. The robbery that McCaleb is asked to look into, has turned into a cold case. As readers you are left wondering how McCaleb, a former agent, is going to close this cold case. But he does so, quite convincingly, because he is a man who is good with the paper trail and detective work.
Michael Connelly is one of my favorite mystery writers. I often describe him as being a solid writer. He has yet to disappoint me after reading five of his novels. After reading BLOOD WORK, I moved onto one of his earlier novels,THE BLACK ECHO which is the first book in the Harry Bosch series. It’s another story set in Los Angeles featuring an LAPD cop in homicide. That is another strong series that I follow.
I like Connelly because he is a writer who addresses the social issues of the moment. Usually he is always seen discussing the LA riots, the OJ Simpson trial or the Rodney King beating caught on tape because in someway those events have shaped the citizens of the city.
Usually his characters are having to deal with the aftermath or blow back of those incidents. And that’s where Connelly shines because he is always tapping into the pulse of the city, examining the racial tension and the political nature of law enforcement in the city of Los Angeles.
Another reason why I like Connelly is because he does such a thorough job with his characterizations and his setting and he often has a diverse cast of characters. His stories are almost always plotted well and the pacing is kinetic. It doesn’t take me that long to finish one of his books. There’s nary a romance in here but the men in his books do tend to enjoy female company upon occasion.
If you enjoy mystery or you’re interested in venturing out into the mystery aisle, you should pick up Michael Connelly’s books. If I had a complaint about his work it would be that he tends to do a good job with his research and often the narrative tone can come across as a lecture. Or sometimes there might be moments of info dumping but that is rare. Other than those two things, I’d be hard pressed to complain.
Whatever flaws Connelly has in his story’s construct or otherwise is not so easily obvious to me. Bottom line is that Connelly entertains and Blood Work does, too. Clint Eastwood portrayed Terry McCaleb in the movie version of BLOOD WORK that’s now out on DVD somewhere. And no, I have yet to see the movie and doubt that I ever will. B.
Additional book Info:
BLOOD WORK is the first book in the Terry McCaleb unofficial series. Often Connelly have his characters work together. So you will often find McCaleb in a Harry Bosch book and vice versa. More deets are below. ETA: Just about all of his books are in ebook format. All of them.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: October 1998