★ ★ ★
Continuing on my quest for a new mystery series suitable for distraction, I hit up my librarian for the second book in Michael Connelly’s famous series centering on Detective Hieronymus Bosch. I ended up rather pleased with result, at least until the Mexican vacation. While there are moments that feel somewhat formulaic, Connelly puts enough flavor into it that I enjoyed the result.
Harry is spending Christmas alone and on-call, peaceably listening to the scanner as he makes his dinner. He hears a call go out for a homicide detective in his district and is surprised when his pager doesn’t go off. It turns out to be the body of a missing vice cop, Cal Moore. Harry had recently met with Cal looking for more information on a dead body carrying concealed bags of the newest street drug, Black Ice. Cal mentioned something about an internal investigation launched against him, had recently separated from his wife and had been by all accounts, working on a serious case of liver cirrhosis. Harry invites himself to the death scene, smooth talks his way in and promptly discovers enough to build suspicion that this is a murder, not a suicide. In about two minutes, Harry is warned off the case by both Internal Affairs and his boss, so of course, he’s even more suspicious. To keep Harry busy, his boss hands him all the open cases for a co-worker who’s decided to go off on disability due to booze. Instead of distracting him, they seem to lead him back to Cal.
Alright, so that’s enough of a summary to help me remember which one it is, because with a current twenty-one books in the Bosch series, it’s going to be easy for both me and Connelly to get them a little confused. Despite a number of standard noir elements (see Kemper’s hilarious review for The Black Echo), it felt engaging. Until the case leads Harry down to the border (now that I think about it, it must be pre-wall), when Connelly tries to pad his story with red herrings and conspiracies. Writing has definitely improved, but Connelly keeps Harry flat enough that the reader can’t tell exactly what he is thinking. Is Harry suspicious of that official? Why does he seemingly trust that one, or is he keeping him close as a potential suspect? It means the mystery isn’t allowed to grow naturally; instead, it’s like being in the fog and having it suddenly lift. It’s the difference between a dim room and sleight-of-hand.
But the good news is that I feel quite mentally stocked up on police detective type mysteries (except that most entertaining Peter Grant. I’ll make space for him any day). Time to make room for some non-fiction and sci-fi/fantasy.