From a chemist to an amateur detective

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From a chemist to an amateur detective

Michael Connelly is not as famous as Stephen King or Michael Crichton on Korean soil, but the 53-year-old crime reporter-turned-author has a huge fan base in the United States.

The writer rose to an elite tier of stardom in 1994 when then-U.S. president Bill Clinton was photographed walking out of a bookstore in Washington holding a copy of one of the books in Connelly s Harry Bosch series.

Bosch is the lead character in Connelly s 1992 novel The Black Echo, which led to a dozen more books featuring the fictional detective who solves crimes and mysterious cases while working at the Los Angeles Police Department.

Connelly is highly skilled at writing detective novels, in part because he has some background in the field. After working at a newspaper in Florida, he took a job as a reporter on the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times. During his years at the Times, Connelly learned about the personalities of police officers, developed expertise in investigation tactics and covered crimes that eventually influenced his books. Connelly is said to be excellent in describing crime scenes and the details of police investigation procedures.

A couple of his novels such as The Poet and The Lincoln Lawyer have been translated into Korean. The latest is Chasing the Dime, released by Random House Korea.

The title of the book explains the novel s protagonist, Henry Pierce, very well.

Pierce is a promising chemist on the fast track to success while he develops a molecular computer that is roughly the size of a dime.

But his life changes big time when he moves into a posh apartment located right next to Santa Monica beach in southern California after breaking up with his girlfriend.

Hoping for a fresh start, Pierce gets a new phone number. But he starts receiving frequent calls from unknown men asking for the whereabouts of a woman named Lilly Quinlan.

If Pierce wanted to live the life of a wealthy chemist and put an end to the annoying phone calls, he simply could have switched to a another number.

But his curiosity is piqued, and he attempts to discover just who this woman is.

Pierce soon finds out that Quinlan was a beautiful young prostitute who has gone missing.

As he delves further into the story, Pierce uncovers huge prostitution rings and encounters pimps.

Even though he is putting himself in danger, Pierce does not stop there.

The story of Quinlan becomes very personal, as Pierce s older sister was also a prostitute who was killed. For Pierce, this is an opportunity to address and finally put to rest the trauma of his past. The novel reaches its peak when Pierce, using his wits and guts, persuades the police to tackle Quinlan s case.

I wouldn t say this is a perfect detective novel, but it s still a fun read.

Pierce s motive for helping the missing prostitute and his willingness to sacrifice his life aren t very believable, which makes it hard to truly indulge in the book.

However, Chasing the Dime is definitely a page-turner which, after all, is just perfect for the summer.

Chasing the Dime
Author: Michael Connelly
Genre: Crime
Publisher: Vision


By Shin Joon-bong [so@joongang.co.kr]

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