The phone messages waiting for Henry Pierce clearly aren't for him: "Where is Lilly? This is her number. It's on the site." Pierce has just moved into a new apartment, and he's been "chasing the dime"--doing all it takes so his company comes out first with a scientific breakthrough worth millions. But he can't get the messages for Lilly out of his head. As Pierce tries to help a woman he has never met, he steps into a world of escorts, websites, sex, and secret passions. A world where his success and expertise mean nothing...and where he becomes the chief suspect in a murder case, trapped in the fight of his life.
The copy on the galley of Connelly's slick new thriller doesn't mention Hitchcock, but most reviews probably will, with the novel's many surprises and "wrong man" plot line. Even the opening echoes Hitch's North by Northwest, in which Cary Grant's mistaken interception of a bellboy's page leads to disaster; here it's nanotechnology entrepreneur Henry Pierce's getting a phone call that triggers the trouble. The call is for a prostitute, Lilly, and it's the first of many; turns out that the Web site on which she advertises, L.A. Darlings, has Pierce's new home phone number next to a photo of gorgeous Lilly. But when Pierce visits the Web site's offices, he learns that Lilly has vanished. Where has she gone? His search to find the missing woman prompted by his insatiable curiosity and by memories of his tragic, long-ago hunt for his sister, also a prostitute draws Pierce into mortal danger. It also pushes him into conflict with the law, for when the cops cotton to Lilly's disappearance, Pierce becomes the number one suspect serious bad news for this scientist whose company is being visited by a major investor in just a few days. Connelly's plotting is shrink-wrap tight, his characters particularly Pierce, whose impulsiveness is balanced by his measured applications of the scientific method to analyze his plight are smartly drawn. It's the rare reader who will be able to finger the villain behind all the mayhem. While very entertaining, however this is the perfect book for a long airplane ride the novel lacks the moral resonance and weight of Connelly's most impressive works, such as City of Bones. (One-day laydown Oct. 15).