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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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