Michael Connelly,
Chasing the Dime
(Time Warner, 2002)

Michael Connelly started out as a journalist and is perhaps best known for his series of books featuring the character Harry Bosch. Readers may recall his other books such as Blood Work and City of Bones.

This time out Bosch is not to be found but we enter the world of Henry Pierce, who works in chemistry and computers. This gives us the basis for a highly original novel that in print form would be a "page turner" -- what's the equivalent for the audiobook?

I must confess to some misgivings as I began. I had visions of the author going down a too well-trodden road when we found Pierce recently separated from his partner and moving into his "singles" apartment. All too often this literary device is used -- it gives the hero a certain freedom while we empathize with his sorrow and, of course, the ex-partner is there to be threatened. Thank you, god of thriller land, Connelly did not labour these points but used them as a launch pad for a story with some excellent twists -- and the ex-girlfriend only nearly gets threatened.

I enjoyed the mixture of science, computers, gangsters, sleaze and the Internet. It all starts with a new telephone number or rather an old number assigned to his new apartment. He is intrigued and irritated to get calls that are obviously intended for a prostitute or escort within hours of moving in. The device of the novel is for him to start looking for this mystery woman and I congratulate Connelly for not just making him the Indiana Jones of California haring off for no reason other than curiosity.

Using the fact that his sister had run away years earlier and that he had looked for her, too, gives a plausible explanation for the quest.

Reviewing a thriller is very difficult in that I want you to enjoy it and so I cannot give you the plot -- this unfolds very well through 10 1/2 hours of unabridged reading. My one small criticism is Pierce's personal assistant -- she should never have gotten the job. Using her to explain the science background is the weak point of the story, but I suppose it had to be done somehow.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I will say that the final gun battle is very cinematic in its description and could be visualized without any effort. I will also say that the story is very well told and warn you to avoid expecting the obvious to be true.

Jonathan Davis does an excellent job in bring the story to us. It is like listening to a very good example of the old radio detective serials. In fact, so good was the story that instead of listening over a long period as intended, I ended up doing a 10-hour 30-minute marathon listen.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 25 January 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.