Chasing the Dime
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"Chasing the Dime" Characters Analysis

By Michael Connelly

mystery | 371 pages | Published in 2002

The messages waiting for Henry Pierce when he plugs in his new telephone clearly aren't intended for him: "Where is Lilly? This is her number. It's on the site."Pierce has just been thrown out by his girlfriend and moved into a new apartment, and the company he founded is headed into the most critical phase of fund-raising. He's been "chasing the dime" - doing all it takes to come out first in a technological battle whose victor will make millions. But he can't get the messages for a woman named Lilly out of his head:"Uh, yes, hello, my name is Frank. I'm at the Peninsula. Room six twelve. So give me a call when you can."Something is wrong. Pierce probes, investigates, and then tumbles through a hole, leaving behind a life driven by work to track down and help a woman he has never met.The world he enters is one of escorts, websites, sex, and secret passions. The beautiful Lilly is an object of desire to thousands. To Pierce, she becomes the key that might fix a broken life. But in pursuing Lilly, Pierce has entered a landscape where his success and expertise mean nothing. He is a mark, an outsider, and soon he is also the victim of astonishing violence, the chief suspect in a murder case, and fighting for his life against forces he can barely discern.


Estimated read time: 9 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Henry PierceProtagonist
Lilly QuinlanLove Interest
Dixon BellAntagonist
Catherine WeaverSupporting Character
Patty GiacominSupporting Character
Bob TaylorSupporting Character

Role Identification

  • Henry Pierce: Protagonist who is a successful scientist and entrepreneur.
  • Lilly Quinlan: Love interest and the catalyst for the events in the story.
  • Dixon Bell: Antagonist and the primary source of conflict for Henry.
  • Catherine Weaver: Supporting character who assists Henry in his investigation.
  • Patty Giacomin: Supporting character who helps Henry navigate the underworld.
  • Bob Taylor: Supporting character and coworker of Henry.

Character Descriptions

Henry Pierce: Henry is a brilliant scientist who is determined to revolutionize the field of molecular electronics. He is portrayed as intelligent, driven, and focused. He is described as in his thirties, with unkempt hair and an intense look in his eyes. He is always dressed in casual attire, reflecting his laid-back personality.

Lilly Quinlan: Lilly is an enigmatic woman who becomes the love interest of Henry. She is described as attractive, with long dark hair and a mysterious aura. She is a photographer and her artistic nature is evident in her appearance and the way she carries herself.

Dixon Bell: Dixon is the antagonist of the story and the main source of conflict for Henry. He is a menacing figure, described as tall and imposing, with a cold and calculating demeanor. He is well-connected in the criminal underworld and uses his power to manipulate and intimidate others.

Catherine Weaver: Catherine is a supporting character who assists Henry in his investigation. She is a journalist with a sharp intellect and a determined personality. She is described as confident and resourceful, always one step ahead in her pursuit of the truth.

Patty Giacomin: Patty is a supporting character who helps Henry navigate the underworld. She is a no-nonsense woman, described as tough and street-smart. She has connections to the criminal underworld and uses her knowledge to aid Henry in his quest for answers.

Bob Taylor: Bob is a coworker of Henry and a supporting character in the story. He is described as friendly and easy-going, providing a contrast to Henry's intense personality. He serves as a sounding board for Henry, offering advice and support throughout the book.

Character Traits

Henry Pierce: Henry is intelligent, driven, and innovative. He is also curious and has a strong desire to uncover the truth. However, he can be single-minded and obsessive, often neglecting other aspects of his life in pursuit of his goals.

Lilly Quinlan: Lilly is mysterious, independent, and artistic. She possesses a certain allure that captivates Henry and fuels his obsession with finding her. However, she is also secretive and keeps her true intentions hidden throughout the story.

Dixon Bell: Dixon is ruthless, manipulative, and dangerous. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means harming others. He is cunning and always one step ahead, making him a formidable adversary for Henry.

Catherine Weaver: Catherine is intelligent, resourceful, and determined. She is a skilled investigator and journalist, using her wit and knowledge to assist Henry in his quest for answers. She is also fiercely independent and unafraid to take risks.

Patty Giacomin: Patty is street-smart, tough, and loyal. She knows the ins and outs of the criminal underworld and uses her connections to help Henry. She is a valuable ally and provides a sense of stability and support for Henry in his chaotic journey.

Bob Taylor: Bob is friendly, easy-going, and supportive. He is a reliable friend and coworker who offers a sense of normalcy and balance to Henry's life. He serves as a grounding force and provides a different perspective for Henry to consider.

Character Background

Henry Pierce: Henry grew up in a middle-class family and excelled in academics from a young age. He pursued a career in science and became a renowned scientist in the field of molecular electronics. After a personal tragedy, he becomes consumed by his work and isolates himself from others, dedicating all his time and energy to his research.

Lilly Quinlan: Lilly's background is shrouded in mystery. She is a talented photographer with a nomadic lifestyle, traveling from place to place. She is elusive about her past and keeps her true identity hidden. Her connection to Henry and the reasons behind her disappearance become central to the plot.

Dixon Bell: Dixon comes from a criminal background and has built a powerful network within the criminal underworld. He is involved in various illegal activities, including drug trafficking and money laundering. He is known for his ruthlessness and ability to manipulate others to further his own interests.

Catherine Weaver: Catherine has a background in investigative journalism and has made a name for herself by uncovering corruption and exposing the truth. She is fearless and relentless in her pursuit of justice. Her connection to Henry comes from her own investigation into the criminal activities surrounding Dixon Bell.

Patty Giacomin: Patty grew up in a rough neighborhood and has firsthand experience with the criminal underworld. She has managed to establish herself as a key player in the underworld, gaining respect and connections along the way. She uses her knowledge and connections to assist Henry in his investigation.

Bob Taylor: Bob has a background in science and technology, similar to Henry. He is a supportive coworker and friend, providing a sense of stability and normalcy in Henry's life. He is well-liked by his colleagues and serves as a sounding board for Henry's ideas and concerns.

Character Arcs

Henry Pierce: Throughout the story, Henry undergoes a transformation from a single-minded scientist to a man driven by the need for justice and redemption. His initial obsession with his work is challenged as he becomes entangled in the dangerous world of Dixon Bell. He must confront his own demons and make difficult choices to protect himself and those he cares about.

Lilly Quinlan: Lilly's character arc revolves around her mysterious disappearance and the revelation of her true identity. As the story progresses, the layers of her past are peeled back, revealing a complex and troubled history. Her connection to Henry becomes clearer, and her actions drive the plot forward.

Dixon Bell: Dixon's character arc is one of power and control. He starts as a menacing figure, manipulating others to further his criminal enterprises. However, as the story unfolds, his power begins to crumble, and he becomes increasingly desperate. His downfall is a direct result of his own actions and the determination of Henry and his allies.

Catherine Weaver: Catherine's character arc revolves around her pursuit of the truth and her willingness to go to great lengths to expose corruption. She starts as an independent journalist investigating Dixon Bell but becomes more personally involved as she forms a partnership with Henry. Her arc highlights her strength and determination in the face of danger.

Patty Giacomin: Patty's character arc is one of loyalty and redemption. She starts as a key player in the criminal underworld, using her knowledge and connections to assist Henry. However, as the story progresses, she begins to question her own choices and seeks redemption for her past actions. Her arc provides a sense of growth and change.

Bob Taylor: Bob's character arc is one of steadfast support and friendship. He remains a constant presence in Henry's life, providing advice and support throughout the story. While his arc is not as dramatic as some of the other characters, his unwavering loyalty and friendship add depth to the overall narrative.


Henry Pierce and Lilly Quinlan: Henry and Lilly's relationship serves as the driving force behind the events in the story. Their connection sparks Henry's obsession and leads him down a dangerous path. Their relationship is complex and filled with secrets, ultimately shaping the outcome of the story.

Henry Pierce and Dixon Bell: Henry and Dixon's relationship is one of adversaries. Dixon serves as the primary source of conflict for Henry, constantly threatening his safety and pushing him to the edge. Their relationship is fueled by a power struggle and a desire for control.

Henry Pierce and Catherine Weaver: Henry and Catherine form a partnership based on their shared goal of uncovering the truth. Their relationship evolves from a professional alliance to a deeper connection as they navigate the dangerous world of Dixon Bell together. Their teamwork and trust are crucial to their success.

Henry Pierce and Patty Giacomin: Henry and Patty's relationship is one of mutual dependency. Patty provides Henry with valuable information and assistance in navigating the criminal underworld. Henry relies on Patty's knowledge and connections to further his investigation.

Henry Pierce and Bob Taylor: Henry and Bob share a strong friendship and coworker relationship. Bob serves as a sounding board for Henry, offering support and advice throughout the story. Their relationship provides a sense of normalcy and stability for Henry amidst the chaos.

In conclusion, "Chasing the Dime" by Michael Connelly features a diverse cast of characters with distinct traits, backgrounds, and relationships. The character analysis highlights their roles, descriptions, traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships, providing a comprehensive understanding of their significance within the story.