Friday 24 August 2012

Michael Connelly: Void Moon Review

An interesting change of focus by Connelly - Void Moon's hero is a crook and a female crook at that. Cassie Black is on probation after serving part of a sentence for robbery and felony murder. She and her now-dead partner Max used to specialise in stealing the winnings from high-rollers in Las Vegas, until their last caper ended in Max falling a couple of hundred feet through an interior window.

Cassie was pregnant at the time, else she'd have been the one trapped in a hotel room. Convicted and imprisoned, bereft of lover Max, depressed, she gives her baby up for adoption but keeps track of her. She wangles a probation in the child's home city and watches from afar - a glimpse at the school gates just feeding the ache. Now the adoptive family is planning a move abroad.

In desperation, Cassie plans one big job. Then she can take the child and hide in the tropical paradise where the baby was conceived. An old contact sets up a robbery, another old contact provides the electronic equipment - before turning nasty. On to the mark's hotel room, equipment barely set up in time, robbery committed, but not enough cash and a mysterious briefcase - Cassie is free and clear. She thinks.

Casino manager Vic Grimaldi calls in hired gun Jack Karch - son of a once-famous magician who had his hands destroyed by a violent Mafiosi. Jack is a private investigator but makes rather better money by killing miscreants for Grimaldi. The manager shows Karch the room, with a very dead robbery victim and explains that the missing briefcase contains $5 million - a bribe for a county commissioner. Time is pressing, there's a hearing coming up over licensing and the people who put up the money are not happy. Find the robber, kill him, get the money back, quickly.

Cassie is good at what she does but Karch is better - he rapidly picks up the trail, brutalising and killing as he goes. Finally he discovers Cassie's identity and the fake passports she has for herself and daughter. Seeing an easy way to capture Cassie, he kidnaps the daughter and returns to Vegas. Message to Cassie: bring the briefcase or the kid is dead.

In grim irony, Karch and the child are holed up in the room from which Max took his fatal dive - but Cassie has a small chance. In a nail-biting episode she manouevres to save her daughter - and then disaster strikes as Grimaldi and henchmen introduce a sting in the tail ...

So, worth reading? Definitely: it's an assured and well-paced story and the high tension chapters are written extremely well. Another Connelly that would make a fine movie. Does the psychopathic Karch make it too bloody? No, Connelly knows better than to overdo the bloodspill. Fan of Michael Connelly or new to his writing, you'll enjoy this clever and tense thriller.


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