Blood Work by
hbk out March 98
Published by Orion
At first sight there is something drearily familiar about Blood Work, Michael Connellys latest thriller. Yet another serial killer stalks the bloodstained streets of Los Angeles. A beautiful woman, sister of one of his victims, summons a worthy adversary for him - Terry McCaleb, a former FBI agent who once specialised in serial killers. It goes without saying that McCaleb is both a loner and awesomely competent in every department. He is also equipped with the obligatory flaw - hes just had a heart transplant. Nothing daunted by this trifling health problem, McCaleb plunges into an energetic private investigation and an exciting new romantic entanglement. Soon he and the psychopath are locked in a duel to the death.
So far, so predictable. Hollywood is fond of clichés, and it comes as no surprise to learn that the books film rights have been snapped up before publication by Warner Brothers as a vehicle for Clint Eastwood. The real surprise is that Connelly brings fresh life to such a well-worn format. The blood work of the title runs through this well researched book on many levels. The characters emerge from the shells of their restraining stereotypes. The plotting is outstanding: time after time, Connelly catches the reader off guard and sends the story in an unexpected direction. (It is a tribute to the authors skill that only afterwards do you notice the fundamental absurdity of the plots underlying premise.)
Connelly proves again - if proof were needed - that what counts is not what you do, but the way that you do it. This is his best novel yet, and it cements an already impressive reputation. Let us hope that Clint Eastwood does the book the justice it deserves. This review was first published in the Independent, February 1998
- author of the highly acclaimed Roth & Lydmouth Series)