Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jenn's Review: The Black Echo

Summary:  For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch — hero, maverick, nighthawk — the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland dam is more than another anonymous statistic.  This one is personal.

The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who fought side by side with him in a nightmare underground war that brought them to the depths of hell.  Now, Bosch is about to relive the horrors of Nam.  From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city to the tortuous link that must be uncovered, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit.

Joining with an enigmatic female FBI agent, pitted against enemies within his own department, Bosch must make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, as he tracks down a killer whose true face will shock him.

Review:  Up until now, my only contact with Michael Connelly's work has been through Julie's reviews and his guest appearances on ABC's Castle. I've been meaning to get around to trying his novels for years, so between a low e-book price and the 2012 Criminal Plots Challenge, this was the perfect opportunity. 

The Black Echo is the first novel in the Harry Bosch series and was written in 1992. I only point this out because you can't get through this novel without marveling at how much has changed in the last twenty years.  One rarely reflect on how much evolving technology has affected the way things are done. With, detectives and agents alike checking their pagers and constantly using pay phones to check in, it's amazing anything was accomplished!  Also, the plot revolved around Vietnam vets which was a constant reminder that Detective Bosch is my father's age, which gave things a skewed perspective for me.  So many fictional detectives are timeless, that it was a unusual to have the reality anchor thrown in. 

Connelly has a clinical style of writing, but it isn't off putting.  Nor is it heavy or full of a jargon.  I found it easily accessible and more than compelling.  As for the characters, I don't know if I ever truly connected with any of them.  Harry Bosch is not an easy character to like, I was certainly routing for him, but he is so rough around the edges that I kept waiting for a glance of a soft inner center... perhaps Bosch just doesn't have one.  I love that he doesn't stick to the book or the party line, and I understand why that could be an issue, but with his results I don't understand why it's as much of an issue as it is... maybe it's generational.  The murder-bank heist plot was good and twisty.  I guessed part of the solution, but not all of it and Connelly definitely threw in enough curve balls to have me second guessing myself and formulating wild theories.   

I would like to continue reading the Harry Bosch novels, though the sheer volume of the series is a little daunting.  It will be interesting to see the character develop and change with the times.  I hope I will be able to shift the The Black Ice closer to the top of my TBR pile. 

Final Take:  3.75/5



Yvonne@fiction-books April 11, 2012 at 5:55 PM  

Hi Jenn,

Nice review and a book that I would probably enjoy. I think that I must have read a couple of books from slightly later in the series and I know that I have more of his work in my TBR pile.

In fact I have likened a book I have just finished to Michael's work and mine was written at about the same time as this one.

As you point out, it is so easy to forget just how much things have moved on in the way of forensics and police procedure and it is quite easy for crime books to begin looking dated.

I have so many older books in my TBR pile though and I really don't want to cull any of them, just for that reason.


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