12:18 PM 14 JANUARY 2020
Book 5 in the series and another case for Harry Bosch with all the twists, turns and adrenaline-inducing plunges of a parkour outing. When a body turns up in the trunk of a Rolls Royce, abandoned in the hills above L.A, it has all the hallmarks of a professional hit. Yet, when the ‘Organised Crime Intelligence Division’ (OCID) passes on an apparent ‘whack job’, though surprised, Bosch is quick to pick up the baton and start joining the dots from a film production company in Hollywood to the original sin city, out in the Nevada desert.
Bosch is newly reinstated at the homicide table, after his imposed absence and designated the lead investigator of a team with two other detectives, partner of six years Jerry Edgar and rising star Kizmin Rider. All are operating under the watchful gaze of newly-appointed Lieutenant Grace Billetts (replacement for the late Lt. ‘98’ Pounds), who comes with a reputation for being tough, enough to earn the moniker ‘Bullets’, behind her back.
One of the things I enjoy about the Bosch series is the melding of old and new and the author’s grasp of complex detail across a substantial series of novels. Characters arrive and may disappear, to re-emerge later, while even the ever-present characters in the cast may undergo changes conferred by disparate lives. For example, Medical Examiner, Dr Jesus Salazar, is now wheelchair bound following a motorbike accident; former FBI-agent, Eleanor Wish, must rebuild her life after a prison sentence handed down in ‘The Black Echo’ (Book 1); and Harry Bosch is reconstructing his home after the effects of the Northridge earthquake saw it demolished in ‘The Last Coyote’ (Book 4).
In a return to the style adopted in that last book, the author does away with chapters, instead, dissecting the book into ten ‘parts’ of varying lengths, which chunk the story into an easily digestible format. Still, Connelly has an unerring knack for also blurring the ‘goodies’ and the ‘bad uns’ and threading his plots with ethical dilemmas, to test the most pure of motivations. Even the cities take on a persona, such as when Bosch is contemplating Las Vegas “…No matter how much they tried to dress her up with neon and family entertainment, she was still a whore.” But, of course, it is within such dark recesses that the criminal underworld and therefore Harry Bosch thrives. Indeed, the theme of this particular tale might be, ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Not everyone who wears a badge can be trusted, any more than every associate of the mob can be assumed to have made poor choices. The corrupting influences of power and money are evident on both sides of the street.
As seems the norm for Bosch, he is destined to push the boundaries of procedure and thereby the patience of even those notionally on the same side. His saving grace, of course, is that he gets the job done, albeit using unusual methods and exceptional intuition and brainpower, though there was also a ‘keystone cops’ moment in this story. I was slightly wrong-footed by the ending too, perhaps because I have been conditioned to empathise with the dark clouds and lashing of rain that tends to drench Bosch’s life, but it would be curmudgeonly to deny the main character his day in the sun. Another four star rating from me and the prospect of some serious changes to Bosch’s situation in Book 6.