The Crossing by Michael Connelly

25748442The latest instalment in the fantastic Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, The Crossing, opens with not only our eponymous and unerring hero six months into retirement and suing his department, but united with another Connelly favourite, the Lincoln Lawyer and Bosch’s half-brother, Mickey Haller.

Recognising that Bosch and retirement are estranged bedfellows, Haller offers Bosch a job – work for him as an investigator to prove the innocence of a client accused of a brutal rape and murder.

The last thing Bosch wants is to help those he’s spent a lifetime putting away. To him, working for Haller is like crossing to the dark side and he dreads the battering his reputation will take, the friends he’ll lose and the way his remarkable career will be coloured by this change of direction. Only, once he begins to look into the case, Bosch sees anomalies that could indicate a gross miscarriage of justice might be about to take place… but evidence against Haller’s client is watertight and the crime just so awful. Yet, there’s no motive, not even any evidence the perpetrator and victim ever met prior to the night she was killed – what’s called “the crossing”. What’s going on?

Unable to resist, Bosch takes on the investigation and, in doing so, as he treads paths other investigators have previously trodden, places himself and the various witnesses the prosecutors were planning to use in grave danger.

Superbly written and plotted, this tale hits a fast pace from the moment it begins and never relents. Following his mantra of getting out and about and talking to people and going places, Harry casts aside his misgivings about changing sides, and throws himself into the case. As he begins to join the dots, the picture he finds is very different to that which has been drawn. Twists and turns follow every dark corner, shadows loom not to have light shed upon them, but to plunge the reader and Harry into further darkness.

Suspense builds as Harry comes closer to the truth – but what lines does he have to cross to discover it?

This book kept me up well into the night in order to finish it – I couldn’t put it down. I wondered how Connelly, having retired Harry, was going to bring this one together in his usual exciting and entertaining manner. He has done a simply stellar job and without sacrificing pace, plot, character, back-story or the satisfying glimpses we get into Harry’s personal life.

A fabulous, impossible-to-put-down read.

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Book Review: The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

Ever since I started reading Michael Connelly books a few years ago, I’ve always looked forward to the next instalment in the series and especially a new Harry Bosch – a character of whom I’ve grown very fond over the years. The Burning Room is the nineteenth book with Bosch as the protagonist and those who have been following the series know that not only is he past retirement age now but he’s been redeployeThe Burning Room (Harry Bosch, #19)d on a special contract – the appropriately named “DROP” plan, working cold cases.

In this one, Bosch has a new partner, the medal-awarded young officer and public hero, Lucia Soto, who has her own skeletons in the closet and axe to grind with justice.

The story opens with Bosch attending the autopsy of a man who was shot years earlier in a case that was never solved. Bosch and Soto are given the responsibility of trying to track down the shooter. Retrieving old files and looking at a case that other detectives failed to solve, re-interviewing suspects and walking ground that has been well-trod is sensitive at the best of times, but when political figures appear to be involved, the stakes suddenly become much, much higher. As Bosch warns the young Soto, you should never open the door on a burning room…

Woven through this story are the usual departmental politics, the unsupportive hierarchy more worried about meeting budget than catching the right criminals, and Bosch’s personal and professional life. This is given an additional frisson as Bosch tries to pass on good policing to Soto, demonstrating there is a still a time and place for the gum-shoe approach to detective work, the hard, pedantic slog and essential hands-on and foot-work  as opposed to sitting at a desk all day and surfing the web or relying on the phone.

Back on the home front, his daughter is thinking of becoming a cop. At seventeen, she not only does work-experience with a specific arm of the force, but is also slowly developing into an adult and the inevitable distance between parent and child (as the child’s priorities and need for autonomy assert themselves) develops. This is subtly and well handled, the daughter being a minor character in this novel just as Bosch is now becoming (for the time being at least) in hers.

Added to all this is the sense that Bosch is approaching the end of a long and wonderful career. I thoroughly enjoyed this book  – found it difficult to put down – and certainly, regular fans of the series have the reward of knowing Bosch’s back story, delighting in his triumphs and seething when he is unfairly treated. We also understand why he acts in particular ways or says certain things. But new readers (and old) would derive pleasure from the great pacing, good dialogue and the humanity that underpins the central characters and their determination to solve the crime.

I sincerely hope we get to read a great deal more about Bosch and that he has the opportunity to continue to put his formidable experience, knack for solving crimes and sense of social justice to good use for a long time yet.

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Book Review: The Black Box by Michael Connelly

The latest in the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, The Black Box, more than delivers.

While this book is part of a series featuring the wonderfully named detective, Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch, and there are rich rewards for readers who have followed the life and adventures of the main character, the beauty of Connelly’s books means that new readers can come to this book with no Bosch baggage and still receive so much pleasure – the type that comes from reading an author who is a master of both his craft and the genre.

Now a member of the cold case squad, Bosch, who has been given an extra five years on a special contract (DROP) so he doesn’t have to retire, finds himself reinvestigating a murder he originally encountered twenty years earlier. Back then, a young and lovely Danish reporter, Annika Jeppersen, was shot dead during the LA riots. Due to the increased crime at the time and the demands placed on the police, Bosch was forced to hand over the investigation to the Riot Crimes Task Force and the case was never solved. It was one that never really left Bosch and when it’s handed back to him two decades later, he determines to uncover the murderer, even at the expense of his reputation and his job.

The “black box” is the name Bosch gives to the one piece of evidence that, like the black box flight recorder in a plane, explains all the other clues, creates a clear context that leads to the murderer and often the motive. Working alone, Bosh is at first unable to piece the evidence together, but when he discovers the all-important “black box” everything changes. Bosch’s instincts that Jepperson’s death wasn’t simply collateral damage from a city out of control, but the result of a deliberate murder, proves right. What Bosch doesn’t expect is that this discovery will lead him to uncover a conspiracy that goes back decades and involves people at the highest levels…

While the novel contains the usual elements of suspense and the inevitable piecing together of the murder puzzle and coming to grips with suspects, what makes the Connelly books terrific is that all of the nuts and bolts of crime writing is interwoven with aspects of Bosch’s private life – the way he struggles to do the right thing by his daughter as a single dad and the growing pains of a new romantic relationship – giving him extra dimensions and humanising him in wonderful ways. Bosch is so ethical and yet, he also doesn’t suffer fools, endearing him to everyone but his superiors and the criminals who often underestimate him.

Connelly has this terrific capacity to make even the predictable (in terms of the investigation) unpredictable and when Bosch makes a few poor choices, his future in terms of career and even his life, keep the reader guessing.

If you enjoy well-written crime and great characters, then make sure you pick up Connelly. I did and my only regret is that he can’t write faster!

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The Drop: Michael Connelly

I have to admit, when I first picked up this book and read a few pages, I wondered what the hell Connelly was doing: breaking the cardinal rule of creative writing, he commenced this 16th Harry Bosch book by telling, not showing. The opening narrative, while utterly readable and interesting, was also didactic: pure and simple. For a few pages, he painstakingly explicated the background to the cold case or unsolved operations unit of which Bosch is a part. I was surprised and wondering where on earth Connelly was taking his readers….then, Harry Bosch, a mere 32 months from retirement appears and all is right (or not) in planet Los Angeles. The opening pages and their tone suddenly made sense and I settled into the narrative like a pair of comfy shoes – as cosy as a pair of sneakers with razor blades embedded in the sole would be, that is, for if there is one thing a Bosch book guarantees, it will keep you on your toes. The Drop is no exception.

This latest adventure in Harry’s life plays on the title very well. The D.R.O.P refers to the extended work time given to cops whose experience and skills mean they are too good to retire and they are granted extra time- up to five years – may the force be with you and all that. Harry is part of the cold case unit and is on this, to employ a cliché, borrowed time. He also draws an unsolved case from twenty years earlier where a drop of blood, or smear on a victim’s neck, threatens to overturn DNA evidence. Simultaneously, he’s ordered, through the ‘high jingo’ or powers that be, to take a suspected suicide: a well-known council man and former cop’s (and enemy of Bosch and the entire force) son. Did he jump from the seventh floor of the building or was he dropped?

Moving between the two cases, Bosch’s home life with his now fifteen-year-old daughter and the vagaries and questionable loyalties of old and current partners, the story unfolds. It is mesmerizing and unputdownable. Like a fine wine, Bosch just gets better and better. You slip easily (or not – those razor blades glint: reminders of ever-present danger, and catch at times and make you draw in your breath and your heart pound) into his life and mind, enjoying the familiar, aching when he does, vicariously experiencing his reticence, doubt and fearlessness. Intelligent and ethical, Bosch is also a man seized by self-doubt – as a cop, father, lover, and man and this makes him vulnerable and oh so worth getting to know. And, as these two cases draw Bosch and his partner Chu further into their depths and twists, Bosch’s reputation and career are once again on the line.

Loved this latest addition that though I tried to sip and savour it, found myself downing in two reading-session gulps. Cannot wait for the next instalment.

 

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