CHASING THE DIME
Reviewed by Bob Cartwright
A few years back I used to frequent dark cinemas for the latest mix of film noir, and nouvelle vague rather than devote myself entirely to reading crime fiction. During those times, there was probably more than a couple of offerings which began innocently enough with a photograph of a beautiful women left in a telephone booth to be discovered by an eligible but somewhat determined bachelor, usually played by Delon or Belmondo. Said hero is besotted by the portrait and is soon devoting his spare time to identifying the beauty, and putting an end to those lonely nights as a bachelor. His friends seek to persuade him that it is fruitless quest, and at the first sign of the females dangerous connections with gangsterdom they make every effort to warn him away from her pursuit. But it is all a waste of breath. He is hooked. He must find the girl, and if necessary save her from herself.
In Chasing the Dime, Michael Connelly suggests that he too used to spend his youth watching the same dubious French classic noirs, so well does he rehash the theme. Henry Pierce becomes the bachelor manqué, when he splits with his wife and repairs to a bachelor apartment. As a computer scientist spending hours on the job (which is why his wife has tired of him) hes too busy to fix up the apartment so lets his personal assistant arrange the furniture and the new phone number. Sure enough the phone is soon buzzing with messages for Lilly, a telephone sex operator who evidently had the number before it fell to Henry. But, just where is Lilly now? Thats the question which soon has Henry unable to concentrate on the innovations which will revolutionise the computer industry and a good few of its bi-products. His search for Lilly brings him face to face with porn on the phone and on the bone, and some of its less than innocent purveyors, one of whom gives Henry a rather novel view from his balcony in an effort to scare him off.
But neither police nor mafia can deter Henry for long, and it is only when he discovers the fate that has befallen Lilly that it occurs to him his pursuit of Lilly is part of a plot to destroy him. Connelly lets the story unfold beautifully, with some twists anticipated while others are revealed with the surprise impact of a sledgehammer. Until now, Ive not quite been convinced by Connellys occasional diversions from the wonderful Harry Bosch, begrudging him the time spent on these other excursions. But this time I am more than prepared to forgive him. Just as long as its not too long before Harry gets another airing.