Since my last inventory in May, I’ve devoured a further four books in three month’s time. Not bad, but this used to be my haul for a month – another lifetime ago. As you would see, I’ve been reading Connelly exclusively. Of the latter, the Daily Mail offered, ‘His mastery of place and character, his ease with dialogue, his control of plot gives his books a subtlety that is irresistible.’ He’s released over thirty books to date, and I’ve read about a quarter of them. While other bestselling authors would write in hieroglyphics, his work is smooth and savvy. He opens up the world of southern Cali to his readers and is a master storyteller. After reading a few of his books there are recurring themes: the consequence of LA; his hero, Harry Bosch working two unsolved cases side by side; the occasional betrayal by his trusted partners on the force, the twist you never saw coming; and Harry’s home life. So here are my (Connelly) recommendations:
- The Burning Room. After perusing Vince Flynn and the new guy, A.J. Finn, this marked my return to Harry Bosch. Relatively new, the book came out in 2014. Burning covers two cases: a burning building from the 90’s, and an LA homicide of a mariachi player. The latter was accidentally shot while sitting at a packed LA square. He has since become a poster boy of a former mayor/aspiring governor. There with pressure from on high for Bosch to prioritise the case. Not for the first time he had to contend with rich, powerful businessmen and high ranking officials, both in the LAPD (LA Police District) and the government. He does this while mentoring his rookie partner, Lucia Soto. The burning house would have special significance for her. Rating: ****1/2 (out of five)
- The Concrete Blonde. Got this off the shelf at the library. Originally released in ‘94, here Harry is after a serial killer who has a thing for blondes. For all purposes, he believes that el matador is dead; he silenced him years ago. Now, the widow sues him and the evil prosecutor goes for the jugular. He juggles his duties as a cop with court dates. What’s alarming is how the killer is still dumping bodies and taunting the department when he is six feet under. Bosch races against time to bust the culprit. Meanwhile, the novel leads to the seedy world of child abuse and adult entertainment. Connelly has a few tricks up his sleeve; there’s danger when the shouldn’t be, and vice-versa. Of course, someone is pushing Bosch behind his back, feeding info to the blonde prosecutor. Who could that be? Rating: ****
- Echo Park. A young girl is gone without a trace. Detective Bosch focuses on a rich kid who has circumstantial evidence against him. The months turn to years with almost nothing to show for it. The rich scion still roams free, the girl’s remains are never found, and Harry has marshaled his energy on other things. When the case is reopened 13 years later, justice is on Harry Bosch’s mind. That’s when things go awry and there are many casualties. The bloodshed crawls to his circle. Once again, Harry’s barking up the wrong tree. Someone unexpected will double cross him. Rating: ***1/2
- The Drop. There’s a ‘splat’ on a famous hotel in Tinseltown. Bosch is the detective of choice on the case, handpicked by the jumper’s father himself. As the case stretches, whether it was a suicide or an accident becomes less clear-cut. At the same time, our hero tries to piece together another cold case, and the DNA evidence leaves him befuddled. Harry unravels malfeasance across the dark past of crime fighting. Meanwhile, someone is feeding info to the LA Times across the road from the department. Who is this shadowy figure with a vendetta against Harry? Who is really pulling the strings at his department? Rating: ****1/2
Four books, about 1500 pages, one writer. My previous encounters with the PD were retro Hollywood characters including James Carter (Chris Tucker) and a few other agents over time. If you’re ever up for a novel, give Connelly a try. I might be a late convert, but I can see the similarities with the LAPD and real life. Justice happens, just you wait.