Crimezine’s favorite Floridian Michael Connelly has hit bookstores with his latest end of aisle bestseller, The Black Box, in which he transports us back twenty years to the murder of a Danish Journalist in riot torn South Central Los Angeles.
Hieronymous Harry Bosch, Connelly’s Jazz loving LAPD Detective, made his first appearance in The Black Echo (1992), the same year that South Central Los Angeles was rocked by six days of rioting, and it has not gone without comment in the City of Angels, that the latest Conners offering dredges back through time, marking the twentieth anniversary of the riots.
The City of Los Angeles and The LAPD have come a long way since those dark days of Police brutality, and block burning social insanity. Connelly has documented much of this evolution in the Bosch series, and for this he is to be commended.
Familiar themes abound with this latest work: Deep, perplexing, mystery; obscure jazz name-checks; cruel and unusual office politics, and a trainspotterish deconstruction of the acronym-ridden Los Angeles Police Department.
Bosch is of course an obsessed loner at heart, but Conners has done his level best to make an empathy jacket for him: The ‘headshrink’ girlfriend, the morose daughter. The chick magnet appeal to any woman in uniform—that’s our Harry. But sometimes you cannot help but wonder if Conners is teasing us, for example the work obsessed Bosch leaves his brooding sixteen-year-old daughter Maddie home alone night after night to eat pizza, then rings to enquire about her safety. “Don’t worry Dad, I have a gun,” retorts the surly sprog. She isn’t joking. Hmmm—Anyone see a problem brewing?
As usual, everyone has got it in for poor Harry, a man who’s quiet and relentless quest for justice, no matter what the cost, marks him out as an outsider, in world of political correctness gone mad. It must be said that Harry’s somewhat implausible status as an aging rebel, distracts from the meticulous and engrossing outlines of police procedure that are a major part of the Bosch novels. But Connelly is a master of the finely paced plot, a skill that will soften even the hardest of hearts. Meanwhile, the suspenseful and darkly surprising ending, will no doubt have readers kicking themselves that they didn’t read the clues earlier. Conners much like Harry Bosch, is at the top of his game.
The Black Box is Connelly’s eighteenth Bosch book. Hints of Bosch’s inevitable retirement from the department weigh heavier with each subsequent adventure. In The Drop (2011) Bosch joined the Deferred Retirement Program and it is now clear that his ‘enemies from above’ can kick him off the force any time they choose. LAPD’s Viet Nam Vet might soon have to change his love of ‘Murder Books’ and Black Box case files for a pipe and slippers and some lighter reading…
The mighty Conners informs Crimezine that Harry Bosch will return in the 2013 installment of the Mickey ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ Haller series,entitled The Gods of Guilt.