I have enjoyed all the Michael Connelly books I've read lately, and Blood Work is even better than I have come to expect. While this isn't part of Connelly's Harry Bosch series, the protagonist, Terry McCaleb, has appeared in other books (including a Bosch).
Terry McCaleb is a retired FBI agent whose specialty was criminal profiling. His retirement was brought on when his heart was attacked by a virus, and he eventually had a heart transplant two years later. McCaleb is a mere two months past surgery and still recovering when a beautiful woman shows up on his boat. Graciela Rivers is seeking his help. Her sister was brutally murdered in a convenience store robbery. The LAPD are not much interested and think it was a random shooting. He begs off, saying that he can't physically perform an investigation. He can't even drive for another seven months. But then Graciela plays her trump card: McCaleb received her sister's heart. McCaleb reluctantly decides to look into the case, and finds himself pitted against the LAPD and the FBI. McCaleb also discovers that this isn't a random shooting and that the killer is in fact a serial killer.
In solving the crime, McCaleb also learns a lot about himself. He discovers that he misses the chase and the work. He's still got it despite his physical limitations. This case also helps to heal more than his heart.
Connelly is so convincing because he writes like a cop (thanks to his years as a crime reporter). Suspects are "in the wind" (they have disappeared without a trace). Or McCaleb does the "hard tango" with other officers to get information (when they aren't willing to share). Last summer I was on a James Lee Burke kick (Dave Robicheaux) and Connelly is also a fan. It was fun to find McCaleb wearing a Robicheaux Dock and Baitshop t-shirt in one chapter.
For any Connelly fan or even a lover of mysteries, it doesn't get much better than Blood Work.
Michael Connelly has been attracting fans by the droves with his hard-boiled, edgy thrillers. A former crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Connelly combines a poet's ear for language with a deep understanding of the criminal mind to create dark, dramatic stories that raise the thriller genre to a new level.
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.
MUCH better than the crummy TV movie based on this story. Connelly is a cut above the usual mystery/thriller writer, and this one is smart and emotionally true.
Michael Connelley never disappoints. This book is better than the movie by Clint Eastwood. I don't know why they decided to change the end of the book and make the friend and fishing partner the culprit. It didn't leave any room for future books about Terry McCaleb to be immortalized in film as the character in Blood Work they turned into the culprit is in all the following Terry McCaleb stories as his partner is the fishing boat business. Even if you have seen the movie and loved it, read the book because I guarantee you will like the book more.
Connelly's books seem to follow a pattern: start simple and then layer on complications, twists, clues, and complexity. In Bloodwork, it starts as a spontaneous robbery homicide and evolves into an intricate pursuit of a serial killer.
Great read and one of his best novels.
4 stars out of 5