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Book Review- “Two Kinds of Truth” by Michael Connelly

November 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Two Kinds of TruthCrime fiction may be full of grand mysteries and head scratching “who done its?”, but it’s just like any other genre in that the strength of its stories depend on the characters embroiled in them. That’s because character is where crime fiction really shines as a genre. You get to see how the best and worst people confront the horrors of modern day society. You get to see them beaten down by depravity and corruption, and you also get to see them rise again and try to make the world a better place.

So crime fiction with great characters is a truly special thing and in his latest novel Two Kinds of Truth veteran crime novelist Michael Connelly demonstrates that. The novel, starring detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is the latest in a series that stretches back 25 years and is a showcase for why Bosch is one of the greatest police procedural protagonists ever. Best of all though is the fact that Connelly’s second most famous protagonist, Bosch’s half brother, defense attorney Michael “Mickey” Haller AKA the Lincoln Lawyer, is a major part of the supporting cast.

Two Kinds of Truth is a continuation of the new era for Bosch that Connelly kicked off in the last entry in the series, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, where Bosch gets embroiled in two cases. One case stems from his work as a volunteer detective for the small San Fernando Police Force. The other ties back into his long career with the LAPD. Of the two cases the latter appears the most interesting, at least at first.

The former is a murder at a pharmacy, the investigation of which brings Harry face connelly1222to face with a character we haven’t see in the Bosch series in quite some time, and I was genuinely surprised by how much I missed them. From there, the investigation leads Harry into a role I genuinely had never seen him take before, which was fun and fascinating, especially when you consider this is a series that’s been unfolding over the course of 25 years and 20 novels. So that portion of the novel is interesting, but ultimately the best part of that story comes near the end of the book. That’s because the aftermath of the investigation brings out a side of Harry that we don’t often see and it happened organically. It lead to some passages that were powerful, poignant and very timely.

The second case ultimately was more interesting in terms of plot because it involved some fun twists, turns, and revelations. What I loved about those sections of the book though is the role Mickey Haller and his investigator Cisco played in them. Haller truly is a flawed, fascinating, and fun character. So it’s always a delight to watch him work, especially when he has someone on the straight and narrow to play off of like his brother Bosch. I’m not really a fan of legal thrillers, but I have to say I’m a fan of Haller, especially after reading Two Kinds of Truth. He’s that great of a character. I didn’t realize how much I missed him, and I’d love to see Connelly do another novel with him as the protagonist.

It felt like Cisco really got a lot of moments to shine in Two Kinds of Truth as well. It was cool watching the motorcycle club member turned private investigator interact with both his boss and Bosch. He had an interesting rapport with both, and I honestly wouldn’t mind to see him taking a starring turn in a Connelly novel some day either.

So, Two Kinds of Truth is another great demonstration of Connelly’s skill at building and exploring characters. Best of all, it ends with a powerful, poignant, and very interesting climax that made me wonder about and excited for what’s going to happen next in Harry Bosch’s life. After 25 years and 20 novels thats a pretty extraordinary accomplishment.

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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.

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

Book Review- “The Crossing” by Michael Connelly

November 14, 2015 Leave a comment

CrossingSo once again I start off another book review with a spoiler warning. If you’re not caught up on Michael Connelly’s amazing series of police procedural novels starring Harry Bosch do yourself a favor and go get caught up right now, because I feel there’s no way I can properly discuss or elaborate on the events of the latest book in the series “The Crossing” without touching upon the end of the series last novel, “The Burning Room.”

Okay, for those of you still here “The Crossing” is another phenomenal example of why the Bosch series has remained so fresh, relevant, and exciting for 23 years now. Over the course of those almost two and a half decades It’s main character Police Detecive Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch has changed. The cases he investigates and the choices he makes impact his life, and we readers have been there to see all the heartbreaking, poignant, and powerful effects they’ve had on his life. As I hinted at earlier the choices Bosch made at the end of “The Burning Room” had a huge impact because they effectively ended his association with the Los Angeles Police Department.

When we catch up with Harry in “The Crossing” we see he’s been cut off from his calling of finding justice for those who no longer can and his life has kind of become directionless. Then his half-brother, another one of Connelly’s unforgettable creations, defense attorney Michael “Mickey” Haller, offers him a chance to get back to his mission, but to do that he has to do the unthinkable. He has to “cross over” to the other side and help his brother, the self styled “Lincoln Lawyer” prove a client’s innocence.

Following Bosch as he comes to term with his brother’s offer and with the fact that he doesn’t have the shield of his badge anymore to protect him in his investigations is fascinating. He’s a resourceful detective trying to find his way in a new world, one where his brother cops are going to turn their back on him and hassle him for “Crossing” over. Some readers might remember that several years back Harry gave up his Detective’s Shield for a few novels and became a private investigator, but what makes “The Crossing” different is the fact that in those novels Harry wasn’t actively working for a Defense attorney, something that would be anathema to him.

So this is definitely a novel where Bosch grows and changes as a character, and it’s exciting to watch him try and succeed at  some things he’s never done and also make some large mistakes. It also gives the book a timely feel and forces Bosch to confront some dark truths about the criminal justice system.

“The Crossing” isn’t the first time Bosch and Mickey Haller have been in a book together, but it’s less like the novels “The Brass Verdict”and “The Reversal” where the characters were almost co-headliners. This novel is Bosch’s, but we do get to spend some time with Mickey and he remains a fascinating and fun supporting character. The chemistry he shares with his half-brother is fascinating.

We also get to spend some more time with Bosch’s daughter, Maddy, who we’ve watched grow up these last few novels. She’s getting ready to graduate high school and her relationship with her father is interesting and feels authentic. I hope if Connelly ever retires Bosch that he’ll focus on crime and detective stories with Maddy.

Another interesting aspect of “The Crossing” that I don’t believe Connelly has done much of in the past is he gives readers a chance to spend some time with some characters that are ultimately the villains of the story. We actually follow them for a few chapters. I don’t want to say much about those characters or the chapters for fear of spoilers, but they’re pretty interesting and effective. The more you spend with these characters the more you want to learn about their involvement in the story and the more you want them taken down.

So “The Crossing” is another reason why Michael Connelly is the best Police Procedural writer working today and a fantastic novelist. You get to follow character who feels like an old friend at this point through a powerful and exciting crime tale and a crossroads point in his life. The “Burning Room” left me excited for Connelly’s next Bosch novel and the finale of “The Crossing” has me even more excited to see what’s next for Connelly’s shared universe of characters.

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

Book Review- The Burning Room

November 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Connelly_THEBURNINGROOMIf you’re like me and you love a good police procedural, you love the work of Michael Connelly. His series featuring L.A.P.D. Detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch is pretty much the gold standard of police procedural novels. The series began in 1992 with “The Black Echo” and has been going strong ever since. For a writer to keep a series going for 22 years and have each novel be strong, fresh, and lead to important character development is an extraordinary feat.

What makes the series even more impressive is it’s nearing an end point. I’ve read every book so I’ve been part of many of the major milestones in Bosch’s life and in recent novels Connelly established that Bosch is approaching mandatory retirement. In “The Burning Room” Connelly gives Bosch not one, but two cases to solve and they just might be his last. I keep my reviews spoiler free so all I can say about that is the book has a pretty powerful ending.

Let’s move onto the cases though. Both are extremely compelling. In fact the one fault I would give the book is that both cases could have been novels on their own. They had lots of exciting twists and turns. One was a cold case involving a seemingly senseless shooting of a Mariachi that has a classic noir feel to it. The other is related to a tragic fire at an apartment complex that lead to the deaths of several children who were in the building’s unlicensed daycare room when the fire broke out. The twists and turns here lead back to a legendary true crime that rocked the streets of L.A. and it’s police force.

It’s Bosch’s new partner Lucy Soto who embroils him in the latter case because of her personal connection to it. She makes for a very interesting character too. I love mismatched buddy cops, but those stories generally work best in other genres with lighter tones. Soto and Bosch are the perfect match and it’s kind of refreshing to see. There are times where Harry is visibly surprised to meet a detective that’s as driven as he as if not more so.

Bosch and Soto follow up various leads throughout “The Burning Room.” When they get a hot lead in one case they follow it up. Then they circle back and pursue other leads. Readers looking for the cliché of both cases being connected will be pleasantly surprised by the way they are resolved. Plus there is that powerful ending I mentioned earlier.

When Bosch isn’t following up on leads with Soto we get some fun moments with him interacting with a reporter and his teenage daughter Maddy, a character who has become quite interesting in recent novels especially since it’s looking like she might follow in her old man’s footsteps.

So “The Burning Room” is another example of why Michael Connelly is one of the finest crime writers out there and why the Harry Bosch series is one of the best police procedural series of all time. I’m very eager to see where the character and the series goes next.

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

Book Review- “The Black Box

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Connelly_The_Black_Box__04693.1349886238.1280.1280The police procedural is a genre that can be dull and predictable when it’s done wrong, but when it’s done right you get amazing things like the television shows “The Shield,” and “The Wire;” the comic book series “Gotham Central,” and “Powers;” and the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly. Conelly’s latest novel to star LAPD Detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, “The Black Box,” is a classic example of why he’s so good at the procedural drama and what it can be when you have a compelling character.

In the last Bosch novel, “The Drop,” Connelly reintroduced an obstacle that had been missing from the series for awhile, the dangerous and complicating world of politics, and politics continue to confound Harry in the “Black Box.” It’s a fun and powerful struggle to watch too because dealing with politics upsets Bosch and throws him off his game so he was to work harder.

The political complications in “The Black Box” arise from infamous chapter in the history of the city Bosch calls him, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 that erupted in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the trial of several police officers who were video taped beating motorist Rodney King. In the opening of the story Connelly flashes back and gives us a frightening and powerful look at this time in Los Angeles as he takes readers to a crime scene that Bosch investigates.

Because of the chaotic nature of the riots Bosch is only able to do preliminary work at the murder scene of journalist found shot dead in an alley before he has to move on to another murder sight. So after the opening section the book takes us back to the present where it’s the 20th anniversary of the riots and Bosch and his fellow Detectives in the LAPD’s Open/Unsolved unit are working to close some of the cases that were never solved during that time period. Bosch’s current assignment is to find justice for the journalist he found murdered in an alley on that fateful night two decades ago.

Readers of the Bosch novels know that Harry takes these cases very personally. So it’s always imagefascinating to watch him dive in and try to find a killer. Often it means immersing himself in interesting worlds and environments. In “The Black Box” the first world he steps into is the LA gang culture and you’re given a compelling look at it’s structure, how the various criminal organizations work, and how they affect the lives of their members.

From there Connelly takes his protagonist into a a completely different territory. I don’t want to say much for fear of spoilers, but in the latter half of the book Harry’s investigation takes him out of LA and becomes very “off the book.” It’s not something you regularly see in the Bosch novels, but when you do it’s exciting, especially when Harry gets into big trouble as he does here.

The Black Box” of course involves the usual collection of supporting characters from the other Bosch books like his daughter Maddy, who continues to be awesome. One of the subplots in the Bosch novels right now is Harry’s approaching retirement, and if that happens I wouldn’t mind seeing Connelly jump a few years and follow Maddy who wants to be a cop like her father.

David Chu, Bosch’s partner is also present and he continues to grow on me. Hannah Stone, Harry’s current love interest, has a minor role, but she’s become a character who kind of rubs me the wrong way. I believe that’s deliberate on the author’s part. So I’m curious to see where that relationship goes in future books.

We also meet some fascinating new characters in “The Black Box” as well. The political element of the story comes into play in the form of Bosch’s new Lieutenant. He makes an interesting adversary for Harry, one you love to hate. He’s not quite Irvin H Irving, Bosch’s arch-nemesis from the first few novels, but there’s potential there. Another character who comes to play because of the political element is an Internal Affairs Detective who begins investigating Bosch. She’s especially cool and compelling. I hope we see her in later books.

So all in all “The Black Box” is another example of why Michael Connelly is one of the best police procedural writers in the business. If you’re discovering his work for the first time with this book you’ve picked a good place to start. And if you’re long time fan, sit back and enjoy, because “The Black Box is all the great stuff you’ve come to expect from a Harry Bosch book.

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

Book Review-The Drop

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

 Michael Connelly’s premier protagonist, Los Angeles Police Detective Harry Bosh, has been fighting crime for a long time. “The Black Echo,” Connelly’s first novel, was published in 1992 and since then Bosch has starred in or been a major player in 16 more novels. Two things that Harry confronts regularly in his investigations are corruption and evil incarnate. In Connelly’s latest novel, “The Drop” Bosch is saddled with two cases that bring him face to face with these eternal enemies. The result is a powerful and highly satisfying novel.

It’s been awhil since we’ve seen Harry Bosch work a case on his own in the City of Los Angeles. In 2009’s “9 Dragons,” the last pure Bosch novel Harry spent much of the book trying to solve a family crisis in Hong Kong. In 2010’s “The Reversal” Bosch shared the spotlight with half brother Mickey Haller AKA the Lincoln Lawyer. Those were both compelling and exciting novels but I’ve kind of missed getting the chance to see Harry Bosch do what he does best. So it was a lot of fun to be back with Harry on his home turf and seeing him crack cases

In “The Drop” Bosch is actually given two cases. The first one comes to him because of his current assignment as an investigator for the Robbery Homicide’s elite Open-Unsolved Unit, which investigates cold cases. He’s assigned to figure out why the blood of a young boy was found on a victim that was murdered in 1989. Bosch’s second case comes to him from an old enemy that long time readers will remember well, Irvin H Irving. The former Internal Affairs Cop turned City Councilman wants Bosch to investigate the death of his son who fell to his death from a seventh floor hotel room.

The two cases take some powerful and surprising twists and it’s a lot of fun to watch Bosch handle them. Connelly once again proves he’s a master at telling these kinds of stories. The closer Bosch gets to the truth on each of his cases the harder it is to put the book down. The cases are connected thematically, but I can’t say how for fear of spoilers. Some readers may make the frustrating mistake of wanting to find larger connections between them though. I did that at first, but once I sat back and let them be what they were I enjoyed the novel even more.

As I mentioned in the beginning, there seems to be two types of classic Harry Bosch stories the ones dealing with some kind of corruption and the ones wear he confronts evil incarnate. In “The Drop” you get a story that combines both of these tales together and it’s done by a writer who is older, wiser, and better and knows how to spin these classic tales in interesting ways. So the plot, tone, and pacing of “The Drop” are all extremely well done .

The other element that makes “The Drop” so entertaining is of course the characters. Fans get to see all of Harry’s idiosyncrasies on display in “The Drop” and get to be reminded of why we love the character so much. We also get to see Harry spend a lot of time in a new and interesting role, that of Father. “Nine Dragons” brought Harry’s teenage daughter, Maddy, back into his life in a big way, but “The Drop” is the first chance you get to see a lot of that relationship.

It’s a pretty cool and loving relationship too. And Kudos to Connelly for not making Maddy your typical irritating teenager who does stupid stuff and is constantly bickering with her father. In “The Drop” you get to see Maddy is very close to her father and respects him. You also get to see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Maddy appears to be a very canny detective for her age and her insight into human behavior often surprises her father.

Connelly also uses “The Drop” to introduce a new character into Bosch’s life Doctor Hannah Stone, a psychiatrist who works to counsel and try to redeem convicted sex offenders. Stone’s occupation challenges some of Bosch’s beliefs about crime and criminals, but he can’t help but be drawn to her. She makes for an interesting love interest for the character and I’m curious to see what else Connelly does with their relationship in future books.

Rounding out the memorable cast of “The Drop” are a couple more compelling and eclectic characters. Connelly spends a lot of time developing Bosch’s relationship with his partner Detective David Chu. The scenes with the two of them felt very real and it was interesting to see the dynamic they have together. The other fascinating character we spend very little time with, but the time you do spend is scary as hell. Near the end of the book readers meet a violent, despicable, and remorseless killer. The character is evil incarnate, but he’s not a cartoon character. His actions and dialogue ring true. That can be hard to do, but I think Connelly pulls it off chillingly well.

Finally, the title “The Drop” refers to the LAPD’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which means Bosch is nearing the end of his career. So it’s possible that “The Drop” may be one of the last Harry Bosch books. If that is the case I’ll miss the character, but I’m also excited about that idea. With “The Drop” it feels like Connelly is setting the stage for the final act in one of the greatest police procedural sagas ever. There are several elements of the story that could easily carry over into the next book and I can’t wait to see what happens next. The fact that I can still say that after reading 17 Bosch novels speaks volumes about Connelly’s ability as a writer.

Categories: Harry Bosch, Uncategorized

Book Review- “9 Dragons”

October 26, 2009 2 comments

I imagine it’s got to be tough writing the same character for 17 years.  You can continue to try to do something new with your protagonist and have their life evolve. Or you can go the other way and basically never change the status quo. Personally I don’t want to read the latter. No matter how great you are with dialogue or how cool your characters are if they’re static I get bored.

Fortunately though there are writers like Michael Connelly who believe in making their characters change and grow. Connelly has a few series characters, but the one he’s been most prolific with is LAPD Detective Hieronymus  Bosch.  For 17 years and 15 novels Connelly has been taking readers of the Harry Bosch novels on harrowing, exciting, powerful and often poignant journeys. Some are admittedly better than others, but the one thing they almost always do is leave Harry in a different place.

And Connelly’s latest novel “9 Dragons”nine_dragons is no exception. Not only does Harry’s life change in the novel, but Connelly also takes his protagonist on a different kind of adventure. Most Harry Bosch novels are police procedurals. You follow Bosch as he gathers evidence, tries to solve a crime, and deal with the politicians, and police brass who are more concerned with press than results. The first half of “9 Dragons” reads like that, but the second half is a decidedly different Bosch novel.

“9 Dragons” open with Harry investigating the murder of Chinese liquor store owner. All evidence points to a local Triad, a secret society and organized crime ring. Things become personal though when it appears that associates of the Triad kidnap Harry’s 13 year old daughter who is living in Hong Kong with his ex-wife. A desperate Bosch flies to Hong Kong determined to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back.

So “9 Dragons” reads like a better episode of “Law and Order” combined with the movie “Taken”. The pacing is quick and the action is exciting especially when Harry is on the ground in Hong Kong looking for his daughter.  It almost moved too fast though.  The novel doesn’t end in Hong Kong. It moves back to Los Angeles where Harry tries to close the case that started everything.  I personally wish Connelly would have spent a little more time in Hong Kong. The scenes there have a noirish tone as Bosch breaks laws and does almost whatever it takes to get his daughter back. It’s a morally murky side of Bosch that we don’t often see and I liked it.

I also thought Connelly did a great job depicting the relationship between Bosch and his daughter. You feel for the girl because of it and Bosch’s quest to get her back becomes even more intriguing and heart rending.

I won’t say what happens because of spoilers but “9 Dragons” ends on a note that takes future Bosch books in a new direction and I applaud Connelly for doing that. That direction also comes organically  I’m a Harry Bosch fan and anything that keeps the series fresh and makes sense I look forward too. All in all “9 Dragons” was an entertaining and fun read. It’s by no means the best book in the series, but it is a solid entry and the author should be applauded for trying something different and continuing to take his character some place new

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch