Michael Connelly reminds me of one of those high-wire performers at the circus. It's impressive enough to be able to walk across a thin wire for 100 yards or so at nosebleed height. Just to make sure the audience is awake, however, the guy waits until he's a few feet away from his platform, does a double backflip and then walks across the rest of the wire on his hands.
Where does Michael Connelly fit in with this comparison? Well, he has written a number of novels involving a private investigator named Harry Bosch, exponentially increasing his audience along the way. He could undoubtedly build a very comfortable career writing nothing but Harry Bosch novels. Only, every so often, he gives us a novel featuring a whole new group of characters and takes his readers to other places. He's not marking time here, either, because Connelly is good enough that just about anything he chooses to present is worth a look --- a long look --- whether Harry Bosch is in the mix or not.
This brings us to VOID MOON. Harry Bosch is nowhere to be found. No matter; there is a sympathetic protagonist in Carrie Black, who has recently completed a five year stint as a guest of the state of Nevada following a heist that in just a few moments went terribly, irrevocably wrong. Carrie is selling Porsches by day and nursing a secret at night, and it is that secret that leads her to risk throwing her new life away by seeking one last, major heist. Her target is a high-rolling casino gambler. She succeeds. In fact, she succeeds all too well.
Max, her deceased lover and partner in crime, had always said that it was possible to steal too much. Carrie quickly discovers the terrible truth of that canard when she finds that what she has stolen does not belong to the mark, but to his bosses. She soon find herself pursued by two rival organized crime groups who want the money --- and her. Leading the pursuit is Jack Karch, an amoral sociopath who was responsible for Max's death.
Carrie Black is not the main protagonist of this novel, however. VOID MOON is a book about Las Vegas, which has gone from mob campground to family resort without anything really changing. This is a book about the people who repose in shadow and make the glitter and the magic work, and who are never seen by the vacationers, honeymooners and conventioneers, nor by the few winners and the many, many losers who come to relax, to enjoy, to win --- and who are usually disappointed on at least one count. Connelly knows this world and shares it with his readers, weaving the city into a tale of greed, remorse, double-crosses, tough choices and bittersweet endings.
With VOID MOON, Connelly strikes a balancing act. His Harry Bosch fans will be anything but disappointed; while those who have never read him will busily begin correcting the oversight. Incidentally, VOID MOON will undoubtedly increase sales of door jams among business travelers and vacationers. Read it. You will see why.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 1, 2001