Sunday, May 29, 2011

Page 48: The Harry Bosch Novels by Michael Connelly

I have been reading many books including a few audio books since my last post.  Sorry for the delay. Thank you to those of you who still visit the blog and also to those of you who are new.  I appreciate your interest and hope you have been encouraged to read some of the books I write about.  Instead of blogging just one book in this post I thought it would be a change of pace to talk about several books by the same author with a brief description of each.

Michael Connelly has been writing great crime fiction since his first Harry Bosch novel entitled The Black Echo. The next three in the series are The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote.

The Harry Bosch novels are about a homicide detective who is a loner, butts heads with the "brass", is as persistent as a dog with a bone, and is very very good solving murders. The scene for most of the books is Los Angeles. Connelly portrays the city in a straightforward way. He takes you from the towers of Universal City to the back alleys of Hollywood. I keep checking a map of LA to try to follow where his investigations take him.  So far I have read the first four Harry Bosch novels and am working on a fifth novel, but more about that one in another post. The fifth is not part of the Harry Bosch series.  Once I find a series I like, I prefer to read them in order. I am glad I am doing this with the Harry Bosch series since the character development has been a continuous thread throughout in these first four books.  In addition, more is revealed about Harry's past that helps explain his doggedness and being a loner.  This is especially true in The Last Coyote.

Here is a brief description of the first four books:

The Black Echo introduces Harry Bosch.  Harry has been demoted from an elite investigative unit to the Hollywood Detective Division.  A body is found in a a drainage pipe near a reservoir off Mulholland Drive.  The deceased was once in Harry's platoon in Vietnam.  Their job was to go down into the underground tunnels of the Viet Cong with just a flashlight and a pistol to kill as many as possible and still come out alive.  Then they would blow up the tunnel in order to collapse it.  Tunnels are the theme for this story and Harry ends up working with the FBI as he tries to solve the murder.  The FBI is trying to solve a bank robbery that is connected to the murdered man.  The robbers dug a tunnel and came up into the vault on Memorial Day weekend.  This one has a lot of surprises and the plot moves along at a very good pace.

The Black Ice involves an investigation into the death of a narcotics agent that apparently committed suicide in a run-down motel.  Harry goes against the suicide conclusion and pursues his own theory of how the agent was killed.  As he follows the clues they lead him to Mexico and the discovery of a connection between a Mexican drug lord and an LA cop.  The story is fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing the outcome until the very end.  Even when you think you have it figured out, forget it, you don't.

The Concrete Blonde has a very creative plot.  It follows Harry Bosch during a trial where the city is being sued by the family of a man Harry killed prior to the timeline of the first book.  This is what got him demoted to the Hollywood Division. Harry shot and killed a man he thought was "The Dollmaker", a serial killer who put makeup on his victims after they were killed.  Harry followed a tip that "The Dollmaker" was in a second floor apartment.  Harry went to the apartment, kicked in the door and found a man standing by a bed.  The man reached under a pillow, and Harry warned him to stop, but he kept reaching.  Harry shot and killed him.  When Harry checked, he found the man had been reaching for his toupe.  While Harry must be at the trial every day, he is also conducting an investigation when another body is found in concrete under a storage building that burned during the riots in Watts.  Questions start popping up.  Did Harry shoot the wrong man?  Is there a second killer imitating "The Dollmaker"?  All questions will be answered, but only after a plot that moves so fast you will have trouble keeping up.

The Last Coyote reveals the most about Harry's past and the forces that drive him.  This book finds Harry  suspended for striking his supervisor and pushing him through the window of his office.  He is required to see the police department psychiatrist.  As the book progresses we find that Harry's mother was murdered in the early 1960's and her body found in a dumpster.  The murderer was never found and the case quickly ended up in the unsolved files.  His mother was a prostitute and Harry spent most of his youth in institutions after he was taken away from her.  After Harry visits one of his mother's old friends, he decides to try to find out what happened.  Some of those involved are still living so Harry tracks them down and tries to get answers to his questions.  Some are cooperative, others are not.  In fact, people start dying and the plot rockets faster and faster from there.  All I can say is that Michael Connelly gets better with each book.  If you like crime fiction, Michael Connelly is one of the best.


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