Just two month post transplant and Terry McCaleb is recovering on his boat which is moored in the Los Angeles Harbor. Retired from his job with the FBI, Terry is under doctor's orders to do nothing other than rest and recover. He finds this a reasonable task until the day a women comes to his boat pleading that he investigate the murder of her only sister. When presented with the intimate details, Terry finds it hard to resist.
This is one of those stories that grabs onto the reader early on, and won't let go until the last line is read or listened too in my case. To me, The murder of Gloria seemed like a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it would never have occurred to me to think anything else. McCaleb is one of those people who has a different sense of events and possibilities. As an investigator, he comes across to the reader as very believable. I loved this book. Since I was listening to the audio version, I kept finding excuses to go out in my car and drive around, run errand and pick up the kids. Am looking forward to listening to more of Michael Connelly's works.
The audiobook I listened to was an unabridged version by Brilliance Audio. It was superbly read by Dick Hill (who I would listen to again at any time). Length is 13 hours.
on November 6, 2003
I have read a number of Michael Connelly's novels. This, I feel, is his best work. The ex-FBI agent Terry McCaleb has just been given a new lease of life with a heart transplant only to be persuaded to take on a case that has the police baffled. McCaleb quickly breaks the case open but, as he does, it gets weirder and weirder. An apparent random killing seems anything but.
Graciela River's sister is the victim who manages to persuade McCaleb to take on the case. McCaleb is reluctant at first until Graciela pulls her trump card. Her sister's death is what gave Terry his new life - he has her heart. Using old contacts in the LAPD he manages to get enough information on the case to get it moving where once it lay dormant. One of the subplots in this book is the rankling between the agents on the case and Connelly - particularly as clues seem to point to McCaleb as the killer! This sort of tension can be overused in detective stories but Connelly does a great job of balancing the different aspects of ego, honor and getting the job done.
The premise of the book (which I can't reveal without giving the whole plot away!) is truly original. Like many great detective stories the clues are there if you can spot them.
Connelly's greatest achievement in this book is to keep the plot rolling and building. Just as you think it has reached a quiet point, something dramatic - but never that unexpected - happens to bring us back to the chase. It's one of those books that you constantly find yourself saying, "Ah, of course!" and is very enjoyable as a result. If you haven't read any of Connelly's novels before, this is a great opener; if you have read them - what are you waiting for?
on October 9, 2003
This is my first Michael Connelly book. His flowing, easy writing style grabbed me from page one, and along the book the cool plot and the above-average developed, human and likable characters did the rest of the job for me. His other books will be part of my reading list, no doubt.
The main character is Terry McCalleb, a retired FBI agent, now living in a boat anchored at a marina in LA. He's retired because his heart played a trick on him, and he had to wait two years at the organ-receiving line, almost loosing his life in the process. Finally, two months after a successful transplant, all he wants to do is fix his boat and drive to Catalina. But then, suddenly, a beautiful woman comes along and asks him to investigate the violent murder of her sister. McCalleb says he's off the game and won't do it, but then Graciela (that's the woman's name) says he should think about it, since the heart now in McCalleb's chest once belonged to her deceased sister.
From then on, the book goes from a seemingly simple situation to a very complex plot. It's interesting to see how Connelly makes McCalleb work, sometimes even to complete loose ends, just to a little bit later discover something he had previously missed. McCalleb is a coherent character, and the reader can't help but like him. Other characters are intersting as well, good ones and bad ones.
After reaching the end, I noticed that the solution is in plain sight in the middle of the book, if the reader pays enough attention or is interested in spoiling the fun for the end. I suggest not an investigative reading, but an enjoyable one. Just go along with McCalleb and it will be fine. Not the usual serial-killer-forensic-investigation thriller. Way above average.
on February 12, 2003
Ex-FBI agent Terry McCaleb spends most of his days onboard his boat where he's recovering from a heart transplant. It's a quiet, restful life until Graciella Rivers steps onto McCaleb's boat. She wants McCaleb to find the murderer of her sister Gloria. McCaleb is uninterested until Graciella discloses one addition piece of information: the heart McCaleb received once belonged to Gloria.
McCaleb learns that Gloria's murder is more than just a random act of violence during a convenience store robbery. To say any more would give away too much of a great story. What makes the story great? First, Connelly writes smart. The story is intriguing, fast-paced, and most important - believable. As a reader of mysteries and thrillers, I really get tired of writers who jerk you around from one red-herring to another in order to steer your attention away from a plot detail you might have otherwise noticed. Connelly does none of this. His story (and his writing) has a flow that reads very naturally and easily. BLOOD WORK is one of the smartest thrillers I've read in a long time. Well worth your time and money.
on October 22, 2002
Once an agent, always an agent
By Michael Connelly
Warner Books ($$$$)
By Danny Brennan
Blood Work is a modern mystery written by Michael Connell. The crime takes place in Los Angeles, California, where an ex-FBI agent-Terrell McCaleb-is enjoying his retirement from the bureau. Terrell began his retirement days by recovering from a heart transplant surgery and remodeling his boat. After the crime takes place, he puts his retirement on hold to investigate a series of murders. Terrell McCaleb puts his skills as an agent together and hunts down the killer.
"Michael Connelly is a national bestselling author of A Darkness More Than Moon Night, Void Moon, Angels Flight, Blood Work, and The Poet. New York Times bestselling author of The Poet, comes his most ambitious, most gripping achievement to date- a novel of masterly suspense and righteous obsession that will never let you go. The winner of an Edgar Award, a Nero Wolfe prize, a Macavity Award, and an Anthony Award, he lives in Los Angeles." (Back in/out-side cover)
Blood Work is written mainly for an adult audience because of the violent references. For those who love a good mystery, Blood Work has all of the suspense and "who done it" one could ask for.
Blood Work has an interesting perspective in murder investigations. Terrell McCaleb can only go so far, as a citizen; and not everyone is on his side. The book definitely holds the reader's attention, and it makes it hard to put the book down. Overall, Michael Connelly has made Blood Work a success, and it will definitely intrigue all of its readers.
on August 12, 2002
Terry McCaleb, the protagonist of Michael Connelly's "Blood Work," had to retire in his forties from the FBI after a successful career as a profiler and tracker of serial killers. McCaleb came down with a severe condition, caused partly by stress, which destroyed his heart. He is alive because he received the heart of a young woman who was murdered during an apparent robbery. Now, McCaleb lives a quiet life puttering around on in California on his houseboat and trying to stay out of the limelight.
Suddenly McCaleb is back in the hunt. A woman named Graciela Rivers is the sister of Gloria Torres, whose heart was transplanted into McCaleb's chest. Rivers approaches McCaleb and states that he has a moral obligation to look into the murder of her sister, which was never solved, and has now become a "cold case." Since McCaleb has Gloria's heart, Rivers reasons, he should track the person who murdered her.
Against doctor's orders, McCaleb launches an unauthorized investigation. He enrages the cops who worked the Rivers case. They do not want an ex-FBI agent who is no longer licensed to investigate their case. McCaleb also becomes romantically involved with the beautiful Graciela and he reaches out to Torres' young son, Raymond, who was orphaned when his mother was murdered. Eventually, McCaleb discovers that Gloria's death may not have been a random killing, after all. A serial killer may be at work once again.
McCaleb is a wonderful character. He is world-weary, compassionate, tough, and frightened, all at once. He knows that by conducting a strenuous investigation, he is endangering his health. However, he cannot withdraw once he is on the scent of the killer. The investigation is complex, tedious and exhausting. McCaleb reviews transcripts, videotapes, photographs and other evidence repeatedly, looking for any clue that will put him on the trail of the killer. The author effectively shows how much of police work is drudgery. McCaleb believes that there is no substitute for a thorough evaluation of evidence, and he checks everything to see what the police missed the first time around. I like the fact that McCaleb is not too proud to ask for help from friends in the LAPD and in the FBI.
The dialogue and characterizations in "Blood work" are realistic and vivid, and the plot is extremely suspenseful. I recommend "Blood Work" highly. It is an intelligent police procedural with authentic detail, wonderful characters, and plenty of action.
on August 6, 2002
In addition to being an author in the same genre as Michael Connelly, I'm also a fan of his of work. What Michael does in terms of creating interesting characters, major plot lines and sub-plots that tie together, realistic dialogue, and intrigue in his work, is what makes him one of the most popular writers today. It's a shame he isn't as well-known as some of his peers, but with the release of the feature film "Blood Work" starring Clint Eastwood, Michael is well on his way to becoming a household name in the crime fiction genre.
"Blood Work" was the first novel I've read featuring former FBI agent Terry McCaleb. The plot line Connelly has created is imaginative and possible, which gives the main character all the impetus needed to investigate the death of the person who in all respects, saved his life. Being a former police detective, Connelly's police procedures are accurate and reflect his true knowledge and/or dedication to getting it right. "Blood Work" was a great read, which is all I expect from Michael Connelly.
on July 9, 2002
This was my first time reading a book by Michael Connelly. I saw somewhere that Clint Eastwood has a movie version of "Blood Work" coming out in August and what I read of the plot interested me so I got the book. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed "Blood Work", I'm looking forward to seeing what Clint Eastwood did with it and I am definitely checking out some of Mr. Connelly's other books.
Terry McCaleb is a retired FBI Agent who specialized in profiling serial killers and he's fresh off a heart transplant. His new chance at life is compromised when he learns that the woman whose heart he was given was murdered - and her sister wants his help in finding the killer. McCaleb's unofficial investigation is hampered by his condition (still recovering from transplant surgery) and turf battles with local law enforcement who don't exactly appreciate hints from a former fed that they may have missed something. Plus he's become emotionally attached to the murdered woman's sister and son, and someone seems to be setting McCaleb up to look like a less than innocent recipient of a life-saving organ.
I liked the way Connelly was able to use McCaleb's heart transplant to both drive the plot forward, as a motivating force, and to hold McCaleb back, in terms of the reality of the situation - he couldn't drive a car because of air bags, he had to get someone to drive him or call a cab; he had to take a ton of medication and monitor his temperature to make sure he didn't reject his new heart. Later on in the book, he took a lot of chances that could have jeopardized his health, but it was necessary to the plot (he wasn't going to solve the murder from a hospital bed) and there was always an awareness that he was doing something risky - in fact his doctor was ready to dump him as a patient because of his actions. It put an interesting twist on a murder mystery/thriller.
"Blood Work" is fast-moving and entertaining fiction. It's made me want to read other Michael Connelly books and I'm looking forward to seeing the screen version.
on April 25, 2002
Blood Work was my first Michael Connelly book. Before trying his Bosch series, I decided to go with a stand alone so that I'd get a good feel of this writer's style and tone. And now that I'm done reading Blood Work, all I can say is that if his other books are half as good as this one, I'm in for a great ride!
Blood Work is that rare suspense thriller that is completely unpredictable. After receving a heart transplant, McCaley meets the donor's sister only to learn that his heart came from a murdered woman. Out of guilt and out of need, he decides to go on a mission to find the the donor's murderer. But the more he investigates, the more secrets he uncovers, secrets that will shock him and leave him completely baffled.
I couldn't put this book down. And I could not predict where it was heading. Every time I thought it was going in one direction, the story would completely surprise me and take me in another. And the story is very belivable and the characters very realistic. Blood Work is that rare thriller that works on every level.
I'm in awe of Connelly's writing style and of his talent at writing believable and highly suspenseful prose. I've discovered a new writer that I can't wait to return to.
on December 19, 2001
Terry McCaleb is a retired FBI Agent. His departure from the Bureau was forced. He needed a heart transplant. Having given up any hope of being saved because of his rare blood type, he has resigned himself to dying. Then, at the last moment, a heart became available. All of this happens before "Blood Work" begins.
Having become a minor celebrity due to a pair of newspaper articles, Terry has turned down several requests by people to solve crimes on their behalf. Then Graciella Rivers tells him he has to solve the murder of her sister, Gloria. When he asks why, she tells him that he has Gloria's heart.
"Blood Work" provides a fascinating study into how a professional works a murder case. Picking up where the police left off, and incurring their wrath in the process, Terry develops new leads, makes use of old evidence, and soon is on the trail of Gloria's killer. However, in a strange plot twist, Terry realizes that someone killed Gloria for one of her organs, making him a prime suspect.
At this point, the plot could have turned in on itself and lost its way. Other writers would have left us with a very smart Terry up against a very stupid everyone else. However, Connelly provides plot twist after plot twist until the surprise revelation of the killer's identity. Even then, he's not finished with the story or Terry's search for justice.
As a former resident of Los Angeles, I enjoyed reliving visits to various places around that city. As a reader of fiction, I appreciated a well-written, intelligent thriller.