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text 2018-07-28 20:51
Red Eye: Patrick Kenzie vs. Harry Bosch: An Original Short Story - Dennis Lehane,Michael Connelly

Two pages in and I was wishing Connelly and Lehane would team up again and flesh this great short story out into a full length novel, because I sure as hell would read it.

 

The story is set in Boston and poor Harry Bosch who spent the Vietnam War as a tunnel rat, and tries to avoid enclosed spaces, immediately finds himself in the Ted Williams tunnel with a load of maniac Boston drivers. (There's a reason they're known as 'Massholes'.)

 

Once he's met Patrick Kenzie and they've checked each other out and decided they're both alpha males they settle down to a bit of East Coast vs West Coast sports banter.

 

"You like baseball, Patrick?"

 

"Big-time. Why?"

 

"You're the first guy I've seen in this town not wearing a Sox hat."

 

Patrick pulled off his hat and considered the front of it as he ran a hand through his hair. "Imagine that. I didn't even look when I left the house."

 

"Is that a rule around here? You've all got to represent Red Sox Nation or something?"

 

"It's not a rule, per se, more like a guideline."

 

I laughed out loud at that, seeing as I was wearing a Red Sox hat while I was reading.

 

But if I have one complaint about Patrick Kenzie, it's that he's not a hockey fan.

 

Patrick edged his way through the doorway onto an Arizona Cardinals rug, drew a bead on a BarcaLounger trimmed in Sun Devils colors. A Phoenix Suns pennant shared space with one from the Phoenix Coyotes and Patrick had to peer at the latter to realize the Coyotes played in the NHL.

 

If he learned nothing else from this day, he now knew Arizona had a professional hockey team.

 

So, please Messrs Lehane and Connelly, could Harry and Patrick ride again?

 

 

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review 2018-05-11 03:01
The Last Coyote is a metaphor
The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly

Details: This is book 4 in the Harry Bosch series, and is Book 4 in the Harry Bosch Universe. I'm way behind in my HBU reviews - I've read all the way through Blood Work, which is the 8th book in the HBU. 

 

Nonetheless, to discuss The Last Coyote, I must begin with the obvious and somewhat heavy-handed metaphor in the title. Harry Bosch is the last coyote: solitary and lonely, an anachronism in the urban jungle of Los Angeles. This particular book is all about Harry Bosch. 

 

We begin with Harry on suspension for throwing Pounds, LAPD brass, through a window. In order to be reinstated, he needs to be cleared for duty by a psychologist. During his suspension, Harry decides to work on solving the three-decades-old murder of his mother, Marjorie Lowe. Because he's Harry Bosch.

 

I really like this book, although the ease with which Harry puts together the truth about a case that went cold when he was 11 is somewhat, erm, unbelievable. He's a good detective, but really, that's a bit hard to swallow. The identification of the murderer, as well, was very anti-climactic.

 

In addition, I have to add that the idea of Harry's mother, who was, not to put too fine a point on it, a young and attractive woman who was a prostitute, catching the eye of not one, but two, extremely prominent Los Angeles attorneys (including Harry's father, the late, great, Mickey Haller, who was a well-known defense attorney) is, again, difficult to square with the realities of Harry's life. It's very Pretty Woman, which makes it implausible. And this isn't just Harry's rose colored glasses view of his beloved mother - this is the factual background that Harry uncovers.

 

Overall, this is a solid installment, and it clears up the mystery of his mother's murder.

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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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