Terry McCaleb was once a top-ranked F.B.I. agent, but then a heart attack brought him down and forced him into early retirement. After an interminable wait because of his very rare blood type, McCaleb has finally had a heart transplant and is recuperating aboard his boat which is docked in the harbor at San Pedro, California.
Terry is still early in his recovery when a beautiful woman named Graciella Rivers shows up at his boat and begs him to investigate the murder of her sister, Gloria, who was shot to death in the robbery of a convenience store. Terry explains that this would be impossible and that his condition would not permit it. Then Graciella drops the bomb that leaves him no choice.
Against the advice of his doctor who is enormously upset with him, McCaleb agrees to investigate Gloria's death. It's going to be an uphill battle, given that he's now a private citizen and, ex-F.B.I. agent or not, the local cops who investigated the crime originally are going to stonewall him. They've written off the case as a run-of-the-mill homicide in the course of an armed robbery. They have no suspects and aren't looking particularly hard to find any. The last thing they want is for some outsider to come in and show them up.
McCaleb pretty quickly concludes that there is probably more to this crime than a simple robbery gone wrong and his investigation turns up several interesting developments. He's a unique and sympathetic protagonist, and it's fun watching him work his way through all of the obstacles thrown in his path. It's a taut compelling story--basically what anyone who reads him would expect from Michael Connelly.
I'm giving this three stars rather than four, however, because of something incredibly stupid that happens near the end of the book. (WARNING: Do not read the following unless you want a good idea how the book ends.)