Blood Work (Terry McCaleb) by Michael Connelly

KK Conley Review

MC Blood Work

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If you’ve only seen the movie, then treat yourself to a great read. Clint Eastwood rarely misses the mark, but he made a mess of this story when he rewrote it for the screenplay. If you’ve not seen the movie, don’t bother.

Booklist Online Review

Once the point man for FBI serial-killer hunts in Los Angeles, Terry McCaleb is now retired. He’s also recovering from heart-transplant surgery, made necessary, at least in part, by the pure evil, madness, and inhumanity his work forced him to confront. His routine–monitoring his temperature, taking his meds, and puttering on his boat–is upset when Graciela Rivers asks him to investigate her sister’s death in a convenience-store robbery. McCaleb refuses until Graciela tells him that he is alive because he received her dead sister’s heart. Painstaking investigation convinces McCaleb that Graciela’s sister wasn’t the chance victim of a robbery gone bad; she was the target. Painstaking investigation also irritates the dickens out of the LAPD and ultimately the bureau, and Terry realizes that he is being manipulated. By the time he is about to be indicted as the killer, he learns an even more shattering truth. Blood Work is solid entertainment but not up to Connelly’s last two novels: The Poet (1996) and the superb Trunk Music(1997). Frankly, many readers will see the shattering truth coming a long time before the sleuth does. That shouldn’t keep libraries from buying the book, but this reviewer is looking forward to the return of Connelly’s LAPD detective, Harry Bosch. (Reviewed January 1 & 15, 1998)— Thomas Gaughan

Amazon Description

A retired FBI agent investigates the death of heart transplant donor.

4.4 out of 5 stars, 400+ reviews


4.1 out of 5 stars, 31,000+ reviews

Michael Connelly’s Description

In Blood Work, Michael Connelly introduces a new character, Terry McCaleb, who was a top man at the FBI until a heart ailment forced his early retirement.  Now he lives a quiet life, nursing his new heart and restoring the boat on which he lives in Los Angeles Harbor.  Although he isn’t looking for any excitement, when Graciela Rivers asks him to investigate her sister Gloria’s death, her story hooks him immediately: the new heart beating in McCaleb’s chest is Gloria’s.

As McCaleb investigates the evidence in the case, the suspected randomness of the crime gives way to an unsettling suspicion of a twisted intelligence behind the murder.  Soon McCaleb finds himself on the trail of a killer more horrifying than anything he ever encountered before.

Blood Work won the Grand Prix, the highest honor for a mystery novel in France. It also won the Anthony Award and Macavity Award for Best Novel of 1998.