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review 2018-04-19 04:41
HBU # 3: The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly

In this third entry into the Harry Bosch Universe, we finally get more background on The Dollmaker case, which is really the case that catapulted Bosch to fame. Harry is being sued by the widow of The Dollmaker, whom he shot during an attempted apprehension, after the man reached under his pillow for what Harry thought was probably a gun, but which was, at it turned out, a toupee.

 

The widow is represented by prominent defense attorney Honey Chandler, who is nicknamed Money Chandler. Harry is represented by the county attorney, Belk. Harry is not satisfied with the quality of his representation. In addition, LA County has wanted to settle the case, but Harry won't let them. A significant portion of The Concrete Blonde occurs in the courtroom.

 

I am not really a fan of courtroom dramas - because I am actually a prosecutor, and I've tried a lot of criminal cases, reading courtroom dramas can be frustrating because I am all too aware of errors in procedure. I think it is probably human nature to struggle with books that cover territory that the reader has a deeper understanding of than the writer. This is the case with the courtroom portions of this book. I won't bore you with a detailed analysis of things that Connelly gets wrong, but there are aspects of the courtroom drama that he does get wrong.

 

Leaving those quibbles aside, though, I really enjoyed this book and thought that the mystery was exceptionally well done. During the trial, a body is discovered that appears to be from The Dollmaker, of a young woman who was killed well after Harry Bosch killed the man who the LAPD believed to be The Dollmaker. This throws the whole case into disarray, because the defense relies on the fact that the man that Bosch killed was a serial killer.

 

As the story develops, Harry has to look back into the old case and set aside his former conclusions in light of new evidence. He also has to work through his own discomfort with the possibility that he was wrong about the Dollmaker case four years earlier. And, again, his history becomes a significant aspect of the book, when Chandler accuses him of shooting the Dollmaker because he was avenging his murdered mother, whose killer was never brought to justice. 

 

We also finally get to see Bosch getting some support from the LAPD brass, including Chief Irvin Irving who, for the first time, tells Bosch that he would back him up no matter what happened with the jury, and that the shooting was justified. Bosch is also involved with Sylvia Moore, the wife of Calexico Moore, who he has been seeing since the end of The Black Ice. She is a thoroughly nice person, a teacher, and has tried hard to pierce Bosch's nearly impenetrable armor.

 

I enjoyed this book a lot, and really liked the fact that Connelly didn't fall back on the same trope of institutional corruption that the first two books really relied upon. The interactions between Bosch and the LAPD show a different, more functional and respectful, relationship with his peers. The relationship with Sylvia isn't going to last, but it's nice to see Bosch letting down his guard a little bit. 

 

Next up is The Last Coyote.

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review 2018-04-18 18:40
The Black Ice by Michael Connelly
The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

This is Connelly's second outing for LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch, opening shortly after he returns to work, having recovered from being shot in The Black Echo. Lewis and Clark, the IA detectives who wanted nothing more than to drum Bosch out of the LAPD are both dead. 

 

In this book, we have Harry investigating the murder of an unidentified male who was found outside of a restaurant that is frequented by the detectives of the undercover drug unit. During the course of the investigation, Harry realizes that there might be a connection between his murder and the suicide of Officer Calexico Moore, found dead in a hotel room over the Christmas holidays. Moore is also the subject of an IA investigation, and the belief is that he is a dirty cop who took the easy way out. 

 

Reading The Black Echo and The Black Ice in quick succession really highlighted the thematic similarities between these two books - in each of them, an effort is made to use Harry Bosch's rogue nature in a way that benefits the individuals at the heart of the conspiracy. In both of them, the individuals vastly underestimate Bosch's tenacity as an investigator, losing control of their plans midway through the book. And both of them involves themes of institutional corruption.

 

We again find Bosch in trouble with the LAPD brass, the subject of angry phone calls with management. He is, always, on the verge not just of firing, but probably of prosecution, for his policy violations. He has no sense of self-preservation. The intertwined cases lead him to the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali, where he runs afoul of the powerful head of a drug syndicate. Given the present situation in Mexico, with the cartels, this book maintains its currency. 

 

Harry sees similarities between himself and Calexico Moore, a fact which makes him very uncomfortable. The reader is finding out more about Harry's personal history, that his mother was a prostitute who was murdered when he was 12, that he grew up in foster care, and that his father, it turns out, was a prominent lawyer named Haller, and that he has a half brother - through Haller's legitimate family. We will get to know Mickey Haller in some of the later books. There is a description of the one meeting that Bosch had with his father, while he was dying of cancer. 

 

Arm chair diagnosing of Harry Bosch would lead to an assessment that he probably has some sort of attachment disorder related to being shuffled between foster homes and orphanages. So far, we haven't met anyone who has gotten close to Harry Bosch - he holds everyone at arms length. For all of that, however, he is not a nihilist, believing firmly that life is sufficiently meaningful that to take it is the greatest crime. He is not swayed by the prominence of the victim, working just as hard on the case of an itinerant worker or a dead junkie as he would on a case where a more "respectable" victim is murdered.

 

I've already finished The Concrete Blonde, so you can expect a review of that one soon. Happily, Connelly steps outside of his theme of institutional corruption in that one, and gives us a straight up murder mystery.

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review 2018-04-16 15:46
Welcome to the Harry Bosch Universe
The Black Echo - Michael Connelly

Originally published in 1992, The Black Echo is Michael Connelly's first mystery featuring rogue LAPD detective, Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch.

 

I've read this book before, possibly all the way back in 1992, and my husband and I listened to the audiobook more recently on a car trip after I got the first two in the series for $1.99 during an audible sale. The Black Echo introduces many of the long-running series characters, including Irvin Irving, Jerry Edgar, Harry's well-dressed, ambitious partner slash real estate agent, Pounds, and Eleanor Wish. At the time that this book begins, Harry is 40 years old, and has been banging his head against the wall of the LAPD management for years.

 

There is a lot going on, plotwise. Harry draws a case of a body found in a drainage tunnel, and realizes as he is at the crime scene that the victim is someone that he served with as a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam. Much of this book is given over to developing the characters and Los Angeles/Hollywood setting. Scene setting is a tremendous strength of Connelly's - he gives his LA the right amount of tattered, grubby glamour alongside of its glittering, moneyed present. Connelly's treatment of LaLa land sits comfortably alongside Raymond Chandler's LA and the 1972 classic film Chinatown, with similar noir elements.

 

Harry himself is a noir character brought into the present. He is taciturn, troubled and solitary, a man whose eyes have seen too much, but who has never learned the art of not giving a shit. He still cares, and deeply, about the cases that he investigates, operating independently, all too often on the very edge of policy and procedure, to solve the cases that no one else really cares about, including, in this case, the murder of a junkie vet who died in an L.A. tunnel. He is a thorn in the side of an LAPD management that would very much like to be rid of him.

 

The Black Echo opens with Harry being assigned to the Homicide desk in the Hollywood Division, following an encounter in which Bosch kills a suspect who turns out to have been responsible for the death of nine women. The Dollmaker case is referred to frequently in this book, although the crime and investigation itself are only partially explained. It's clear, though, that this is the case that made Harry Bosch - he is already living in his house in the LA hills, with a view overlooking the city, which he bought after being used as a character in a Paramount picture. That shooting got him busted down from the prestigious Robbery-Homicide Division (RHD) to the Hollywood Division.

 

In this book, as in many others, Harry is in the middle of an IA investigation, being followed by a pair of untalented investigators named Lewis and Clark. He is partnered with FBI agent Eleanor Wish when his murder appears to be related to a bank heist which involved the thieves tunneling into the vault through the sewer systems. There are conspiracies that extend to the highest levels of law enforcement. The plot is convoluted, but still well-done.

 

This story was used, in part, in Season 3 of the Amazon series, Bosch. Titus Welliver inhabits the character of Bosch so convincingly that I am unable to not picture him as I read the book. Overall, The Black Echo is an incredibly strong series entry, and the fact that it was Connelly's first book is really sort of amazing.

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text 2018-04-15 18:25
Reading (And Watching) The HBU

 

The new season of Bosch just dropped on Amazon - ten awesome episodes of Titus Welliver as the taciturn LAPD murder detective Hieronymus Bosch. I have watched each season as it was released, and have been considering a series rewatch. My husband and I started the new season on Friday, and watched two episodes over pizza and beer.

 

I really don't remember when I started reading the Bosch series - decades ago, certainly. I also don't remember if I started with The Black Echo, the first entry in the original Bosch series. Since that time, Michael Connelly has reworked his arcs and there is now an ordering of what someone (the publisher? Connelly himself?) is calling the Harry Bosch Universe.

 

So, I decided that a reread - in order - is called for here, so I'm adding the HBU to my list of ongoing reading projects. I already own most of the books, so this should be a cheap, and easy, reread. I've read all the way up to Nine Dragons in the Bosch track of the series (it's book 14 out of 21), at which point, I bogged down badly and didn't finish. The HBU as a whole is comprised of 31 books:

 

 

I own all of the books except The Lincoln Lawyer, Suicide Run (short stories), Blue on Black (short stories), The Scarecrow, Switchblade (short story), and then the last four: The Wrong Side of Goodbye, The Late Show, Two Kinds of Truth and Dark Sacred Night.

 

I started The Black Echo last night, which introduces Harry Bosch, as well as many of the ongoing characters. This story was used, with significant modifications, in Season 3 of the amazon series.

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review 2018-03-25 07:21
Jack the Journalist found his brother's killer
The Poet - Michael Connelly

Jack McEvoy had a brother Sean, his twin, who was a cop.

 

He killed himself in a car. Only Jack had a hard time believing that.

 

So he started his own investigation as a journalist, to write the story, in trying to find his brother's killer. 

 

Rachel is a FBI agent who tried to find out what Jack's got.

 

And he got something that lead the FBI to investigate other cop suicides similar to his brother. And then convinced that instead of killing themselves, someone else has murdered him.

 

The story also lead to pedophiles. The killing is in pair. A child was abused and both the child and his abuser got killed. 

 

Rachel is working with Jack, that got Rachel's ex, who is a FBI agent, pissed at Jack.

 

The story got twist. Who is the killer and how to find him.

 

There were some luck breaks. One is someone broken in the killer's car, and stolen a radio. Now the radio would be traced back to the car model.

 

The technology used are old, like fax and modem, and paid phone. The story would be different with the current technology. 

 

That's did't change the story. Still really good. Especially putting Jack on the spot on who to trust. And the delicate relations between the journalists and the cops. 

 

5 stars read.  

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