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Book Review- “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” by Michael Connelly

December 5, 2016 Leave a comment

wrong-side-of-goodbyeOne of the reasons the archetype of the detective resonates with me and so many others is they are driven to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. Whether or not a detective has a badge often determines what type of investigation he’ll undertake and the police procedural and private detective novel can both be highly satisfying and powerful detectives narratives, but what happens when a dogged investigator suddenly finds himself with both a badge and a P.I.’s license? Michael Connelly answers that question in “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” the latest installment in his long running Harry Bosch series, and the result is a hell of novel that blends the Police Procedural and P.I. novel together with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup style perfection.

Anybody who’s read the other 18 entries in the Bosch series knows Connelly is the master of the police procedural. He’s demonstrated time and time again with the previous Bosch books. We even saw Bosch pursue a career as a P.I. for a little while both in “Lost Light” and “The Narrows, the ninth and tenth entries in the series and in “The Crossing,” the previous Bosch novel. All of those were interesting, but part of the fun of “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” is watching Connelly expertly weave together the tropes, hallmarks, and twists of the procedural and P.I. novel.

Because in the book Harry, who was forcefully retired from the L.A.P.D. two novels earlier has been earning a living as Private Investigator, but he’s also spending time as a reserve member of the police department of the small Southern California town of San Fernando, which has found an ingenious solution to budget problems; taking in retired cops still looking to do some good, giving them a badge, and treating them as volunteers.

In “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” Bosch’s paying job let’s Connelly have some fun with connelly1222some of the classic elements of West Coast P.I. fiction as Bosch is hired by an aging and wealthy business magnate to find a potential heir that may or may not exist. While he’s doing that he’s also hunting a serial rapist that’s been plaguing San Fernando and surrounding towns.

Either of those stories could have been a novel in their own. So I was initially worried that Connelly was perhaps packing too much story into one book, and that the two separate cases would not be given a chance to be as fleshed out and interesting as they could be, or that they would tie together in perhaps some hackneyed and non-organic way.

My worries were completely unfounded though. In “The Wrong Side of Goodbey” Connelly expertly weaves together and paces both of Bosch’s cases. One heats up and leads in some interesting directions. Than the other case takes a dramatic turn and Bosch is forced to follow that one for a while. Both cases have some fun twists and it’s great to see Bosch intertwined in the classic shadowy rich client leads to powerful enemies style detective novel. Also highly satisfying is watching Bosch adjust to life as a small town detective and hunt a twisted criminal outside of L.A.s mean streets.

The cast of the San Fernando Police Department make for some fun and interesting new characters, but for me the best characters in “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” outside of Bosch himself, were the returning ones; Harry’s daughter Maddy and his half brother, the star of Connelly’s “Lincoln Lawyer” series, Mickey Haller. I’ll never tire of seeing Harry and Mickey work together. They’ve got a great rapport and there’s a fun, buddy action style vibe whenever they work together. It’s also fun seeing Maddy grow older. Perhaps one day she’ll follow in her old man’s shoes? Or maybe Connelly we’ll give her a story of her own while she’s away at college?

Those would both be interesting options for when Connelly finally decides to retire Bosch stories or perhaps shift him to a supporting character. “The Wrong Side of the Goodbye” though proves theres still lsome great Harry Bosch stories left as the character moves into his twilight years. So I can’t wait to see what Connelly does next with this little universe of characters he’s built. Whether it’s more Harry Bosch, a relative, or someone completely new I’ll definitely be there ready and waiting for what comes next.

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Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch