Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: The Black Box by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly’s fictional hero, is celebrating 20 years in the crime-solving business, and The Black Box was promoted well in advance as a novel that would celebrate the life and work of this unconventional character.

The story takes the reader back and forth in time as Harry, who now works in the open-unsolved unit of the LAPD, decides to investigate a cold case, the murder of a young white woman during the Rodney King Riots of 1992. The woman, who was given the nickname Snow White by the press, was shot and killed, almost execution-style, in a somewhat quiet and deserted area of the city. At the time of the murder no witnesses came forth and apart from a bullet, nothing else was found at the scene.

Normally nobody would pay too much attention to the incident, since at the time chaos and mayhem prevailed in the city, but when somebody opened fire against Harry and his partner Jerry Edgar, while they were inspecting the scene, things changed; but yet things remained the same, since there was not enough evidence to carry on with the investigation.

Now, 20 years later, Harry is still haunted by the case and he’s determined more than ever to discover the truth. However, the higher-ups in the chain of command are not so pleased with his decision for political reasons; the victim was white. So they try to stop him. And they fail. When it comes to the politicians, in his precinct, or elsewhere, he couldn’t care less. What he cares about is the victims, and his personal need to give the relatives, whoever they may be, some kind of closure. So he battles on, though most of the time he’s all alone, and little by little he starts to unravel the threads of the mystery.

At the same time he tries to spend as much time as he possibly can with his daughter Maddie, who also wants to be a cop and his girlfriend Hannah Stone, a therapist who has a son in jail, but of course that’s not quite easy, since his job is his obsession, it’s what he lives for, and it’s what more often than not puts him into trouble. Thus it comes as no surprise that he’s yet again investigated by the Internal Affairs.

Harry Bosch is maybe older now and a little bit wiser, but he hasn’t changed. He’s as stubborn, restless and uncompromising as ever. He may have mellowed somehow because of Maddie and Hannah, but that’s about it. As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The Black Box is not one of the best Bosch novels. The plot is good and the story runs smoothly, but not always, since every now and then it seems to lose its pace. I think that if it was a little bit shorter it would be much better. It is an enjoyable read though.

By the same author:

The Safe Man
Mulholland Dive
The Drop
Angle of Investigation
Suicide Run
The Fifth Witness