Posted by: Gregg | December 14, 2006

Echo Park – Michael Connelly

The latest in Connelly’s long line of detective novels featuring Harry Bosch, Echo Park– like all other Harry Bosch novels – is a police procedural as if written by Raymond Chandler. Sure, you have the almost stereotypical grizzled lone-wolf LA police detective who takes a last shot at One Case He Couldn’t Solve, but Connelly plugs into the romance of the LA detective and makes Bosch – and the reader – care about what’s going on to such an extent that solving the case becomes a life-and-death issue of honor and morality. Connelly, a former crime reporter, gives a fascinating look at the day-to-day grind of the detective, and after last year’s excellent Lincoln Lawyer, which was a defense attorney procedural (if there exists such a thing in crime fiction) Connelly proves that he’s still one of the best writers on the bestseller lists.

In Echo Park, Bosch, who a tunnel rat as a young man in Vietnam, is 60 years old and is starting to look backwards at his life. One case in particular still haunts him – a young woman who was murdered in a parking garage but not with enough evidence or witnesses to narrow down suspects. A lucky traffic stop in the neighborhood of Echo Park nabs a serial killer with a van full of body parts who confesses to Harry’s old case, and Bosch is drawn in to a highly political investigation: an Assistant DA sees the case as a path to the big time and one of Bosch’s old departmental enemies is running for a seat on the city council. The familiar LA refrain of corruption and cover-ups begin and Bosch has to sort through it all and do the right thing. Which isn’t always the legal thing, which is one of the thing that makes the character so fun. (Harry Bosch would totally eat Dennis Franz’s NYPD Blue detective’s lunch.)

I’ve been a Connelly fan for a long time and am constantly amazed how how this guy never seems to have a bad book in him – as with many authors with a long series to their name, you expect the quality to go up and down as you sense the writer getting bored with what the public wants. Not Connelly, who is about as consistently good a writer as I’ve ever read. Pick this one up.

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