Saturday, October 9, 2010

Harry Bosch in Hong Kong...

9 Dragons opens with the murder of John Li, the Chinese owner of a liquor store in south L.A. Connelly's long-running protagonist, Detective Harry Bosch, is assigned the investigation and quickly concludes that the murder is more complicated than it might initially appear on the surface.

Displaying his excellent skills and dogged determination, Bosch discovers that Li had been paying protection money to one of the ancient Chinese triads that now operates in the United States as well as in China. Harry identifies a suspect and begins the process of arresting and charging him with the crime. As he does, Harry receives an anonymous phone call warning him off the case. If he persists, the caller warns, there will be consequences. Harry naturally ignores the warning and proceeds to make the case against his suspect, and then Harry's world is completely upended.

As readers of the series know, Harry has a daughter with Eleanor Wish, a former F.B.I. agent. Madeline, the daughter, is now thirteen and living in Hong Kong with her mother. Harry visits her regularly and otherwise maintains close ties with Madeline through phone calls and emails. As Harry continues to put together his case, ignoring the warning, he receives a video on his phone. Madeline has been kidnapped and is being held somewhere in Hong Kong, apparently in an effort to force Harry to back off.

Harry flies to Hong Kong in a desperate effort to locate and rescue Maddie and now must operate in what is, almost literally, a different world. The Hong Kong scenes are expertly written and it's virtually impossible to put this book down once Harry arrives there.

In 9 Dragons, Bosch's professional and personal lives intersect as never before; he is at once both the desperate father that one would expect to find under these circumstances and the consummate professional detective that he must be if he is to have any hope of rescuing his daughter.

As the book opens, Harry is clearly frustrated with his new partner, Ignacio Ferris. Bosch, who is almost fanatically devoted to his mission as a homicide detective, believes that Ignacio lacks the fire in the gut that the job demands. In particular, Harry believes that Ignacio spends too much time attending to the demands of his family. And then, in a twist of fate, Harry's family becomes absolutely the only thing that matters in his life. Once that happens, he will travel, if not to the ends of the earth, at least to Hong Kong, and he will bend, if not break, virtually every rule in the book to ensure his daughter's safe return.

While not the equal of some of the earlier books in the series, 9 Dragons is still a great read, and it's going to be very fascinating to see where Connelly takes Harry Bosch in its wake.

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