December 13, 2010

Blood Work ***

*** Blood Work, Michael Connelly, 1998

I rewatched the movie Clint Eastwood made of this, with Jeff Daniels and Angelica Huston, before I read the novel. I found the movie unsatisfying, largely because of the poor casting, particularly of Daniels, who was OK in the first two acts, but couldn't carry act three, and because of other cardboard, two-dimensional portrayals. However, comparing the screenplay to the novel, the screenplay was a nice, tight storyline, very integrated, collapsing characters and plot points into a neat package, right up to the climax scene, which unfortunately descended into a Hollywood cliche' showdown action set piece complete with villain monologue and in my humble but accurate view blew whatever goodwill the story had built to that point.

As far as the novel goes, it's my least favorite Connelly to this point chronologically in the canon. It's still worth reading, but it doesn't have the brooding texture that I've come to love in a Bosch story and it lacks the every-chapter high-voltage tension that characterizes the first six Connelly novels. It gets bogged down in the middle in procedural investigation. There are seeming rabbit trails that feel tedious and eventually tie in, but seem gratuitous. (However, this might be a by-product of having experienced the streamlined screenplay story first. YMMV.)

However, Connelly definitely upped the stakes on this one, beyond my expectations from the movie, so good-on-ya-mate for that one. Even if you watch the movie, you're in for some surprises in the second half when you read the novel, which is a nice discovery. The final 130 pages or so were quite satisfying, enough so to bring the read back into the three star realm.

In this project of reading the entire Connelly canon extant, there are only two or three volumes I haven't read, so I can say with some confidence that you can pick up any Connelly novel and be assured of a satisfying read, and most of the time a great read.

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