RARA-AVIS: CHASING THE DIME and Michael Connelly

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Aug 2008

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    De-lurking here for the rare mini-review and a question:

    Part of an 11-hour drive from Maine to NYC yesterday was passed in listening to Michael Connelly's CHASING THE DIME on audiobook. The reading by Alfred Molina was quite good. The novel itself was not so good, in my opinion; overall I'd give it a rating of "competently mediocre" in terms of plot and prose, at least compared to the books most loved by this group.

    This listening experience (and, to be fair, the audiobook was abridged) reminded me a fair bit of what seems to be the kind of crime/thriller books out there that I don't read, but which sell tons of copies; books by people like Patterson, Koontz, Reichs, etc. On the rare occasions when I pick up one of these "best seller" thrillers I come away disappointed, but also reminded of how tough it must be to pull off what Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, to say nothing of the older "classic" writers, seem to do so effortlessly.

    Don't get me wrong: CHASING THE DIME is not a bad book, it just felt kind of color-by-numbers: technology start-up setting; a cast of fairly stock characters, one of whom ends up being the "surprise" bad guy; a protagonist who was not really likable, but not unlikable either, and in fact never really filled out as a "real" character. There was a bit of a noir angle to it (sensible man doing insensible things), and almost until the end I thought the writer was going to do something really interesting with the ending, or add a wild plot twist . . . but the book finished up with a fairly pedestrian scene of violence.

    I kind of wish I'd spent the time instead reading the next book in my chronological read of the "Parker" series (THE GREEN EAGLE SCORE) . . . but that would have been hard to do while driving.

    Now, I have the sense that Connelly is a pretty highly regarded writer by this group, and in fact his THE POET is in my to-read stack. Is CHASING THE DIME atypical of his work?

    I'd appreciate any insights or comments. I also believe that Mr. Connelly may be a member of this group, and I hope this post was not insensitive or inappropriate. (I will also note that my better half is a big fan of Connelly's work, and we must have a half-dozen of his HCs on the shelf; I actually chose CHASING THE DIME as the audiobook for this trip as I figured we might both enjoy it.)

    Best, Mark Nevins

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