Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tightly Layered Crime Drama: The Black Echo By Michael Connelly

The Black Echo is the first book in Connelly's popular series featuring Harry Bosch, a world-weary detective. Connelly introduces us to Bosch just after he has been transferred to the Hollywood Division, a division that no-one really wants to work in and for many is a career-ending division or the division to simply ride it out in until retirement. Bosch is one of those characters who wants to be a good cop but who sometimes slightly bends the rules or goes against the popular opinion of the "police family"; thus, he often draws more trouble to and for himself. (Bosch, in other words, is not "Dirty Harry-esque" but might remind readers of some of the detectives on the ever popular Law and Order series.) Harry is very much a loner both on the job and in his personal life.

The plot for this particular installment of the series follows Harry's investigation of the death of a Vietnam veteran. Harry happens to be on call when he gets called to the scene of a dead body, which most want to write off as simply another addict ODing, but not Harry. Harry, a Vietnam Veteran himself, thinks there is much more to the death because he recognized the victim, a fellow "tunnel rat".

Bosch begins to dig deeper and eventually becomes involved in an FBI investigation, which leads not only to a romantic entanglement for Harry with the Agent he is paired up with, Eleanor Wish, but the discovery of a complex crime that involves far more than murder.

I had read The Poet by Michael Connelly several years ago and loved the book. Several times friends have suggested that I pick up Connelly's Harry Bosch series books. So, I thought I would give the series a try. I was not disappointed with this first book in the series.

Connelly has a magnificent way of slowly unfolding layer upon layer of the investigation. It was fun to watch Harry not only go with his gut feeling but to methodically fit the pieces of the puzzle together. I think Connelly does a good job of character development within the novel, for the most part. Harry is the typical world-weary detective, but there are some wonderful little quirks to his personality and character that keep him from being too stereotypical. However, I felt like some of the characterizations, particularly of the Internal Affairs Officers, were just too cliched and a bit over the top.

While not altogether surprised at the inclusion of a romance angle (after all Harry is a lonely man as was Agent Wish), the whole romance never really seemed genuine and it seemed a bit forced.

Overall, this was a really good read, and I will be picking up the next installment of the series.

4 of 5 stars

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