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There are many good things about Void Moon: story, characters, detail, dialogue, and the production of the audio book. Ganser, an Audie winner, does a perfect job of reading the novel, providing just the right amount of interpretive art to allow the listener to participate in the interpretive act of building meaning while listening.
Cassie Black has never looked back. She walked away from her life as a criminal after one disastrous night that left the man closest to her dead and her life in a shambles. After serving her time she's now selling Porsches to Hollywood hotshots while checking in with her parole officer. Through everything she has been able to keep going by holding on to one perfect thing, her greatest secret, dearer to her than life itself. When that secret is threatened, Cassie throws away her old life and goes back to her old line of work - robbing casino gamblers. She knows a quick and large payoff is the only way she can make enough money to make everything right. And she is getting restless as the "hot wire" of adrenalin courses through her blood once again.
In an interview shortly after the novel was published Michael Connelly is asked about the basic premise of the novel. "The book is about a woman named Cassie Black who has been out of prison and on the straight and narrow in Los Angeles for ten months when something happens in her life that makes her turn back to crime. The book is essentially about that crime--a sophisticated burglary of an occupied casino hotel room in Las Vegas--and the consequences that follow Cassie back to Los Angeles."
Asked about the phrase "hot prowler" Connelly explains, "Hot Prowler" is the term police use for a burglar who specializes in going into occupied dwellings. I first started thinking about a story like this when an LAPD officer told me about a hot prowler who was working the Sunset Strip, going into hotel rooms while people slept and stealing their cash, jeweler and lap tops. It made me think about the possibilities and the skill, though misplaced, it takes to undertake this sort of crime. I was looking for a new challenge and decided on this story, the challenge being to make a burglar--a criminal--sympathetic to the reader. In this story I want/need the reader to hope Cassie gets away. That's a challenge, especially to someone who has written eight previous books from the cops' point of view."
The detail provided in the hot prowl is part of the interest and excitement of the story. The electronic gear required is extensive and sophisticated and described in loving detail. In fact detail is all: the job, the characters, the situation, the atmosphere, the plot, the suspense -- all are given in great detail. The atmosphere, the action, the setting, and the dialogue -- all are done with a skilful hand and polished to a fine sheen. Even minor characters are created with a deft stroke or two and not just stuck into the story line as props or business.
The main conflict is between Cassie Black and a psychopathic private eye named Jack Karch who is hired under the table by a Las Vegas casino manager to investigate the hotel room burglary and find the culprits. The clash between the two is fascinating; the past, present and future come together in a Los Vegas hotel room where all the plot strands are brought together for a resolution. Cassie "does the right thing" after many obstacles and twists bring her back to Los Angeles in a moving final scene.
The audio book runs about eleven hours and is interesting and provocative through all of those hours. Listening to it while on a road trip is highly recommended by this reviewer. The novel had a good run on the best sellers' list for reasons it is easy to fathom. The detail of the crime and the aftermath comes, I would guess, from Connelly's years as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times. There is certainly a ring of authenticity to Void Moon.
And that title? It plays a key role in the story. A void moon is present when the moon is void of course for several minutes between Cancer and Leo. Technology and astrology -- both play significant parts in this crime story.
© 2010 Bob Lane
Bob Lane is an Honorary Research Associate in Philosophy and Literature at Vancouver Island University in British Columbia.