Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Harry Bosch Might Be Retired, But He's Still on the Job

The twenty-third entry in this excellent series is among the very best, and that's saying quite a lot. As an L.A.P.D. homicide detective, Harry Bosch has pretty much always gone his own way, often alienating his bosses, partners and others, but almost always producing results in the end that no one else could have achieved. Finally, though, he goes a step too far and, although he solves a particularly complex case, his methods give his snarky boss a chance to finally get rid of him. Harry pulls the pin and takes retirement before that can happen and he then sues the department for its actions against him.

Harry is now off the job and rebuilding a vintage motorcycle, when his half-brother, Mickey Haller--the "Lincoln Lawyer"-- tries to hire him. Mickey has a client who's about to go on trial for a particularly viscous rape and murder. Haller insists that his client is innocent, even though the evidence against him seems a lock.

Haller wants Harry to join the defense team and investigate the case in an effort to save his client. To do so goes against the grain of everything Bosch has stood for in his career and he has no interest in helping his brother get a guilty man off on a technicality because of something he might discover. Harry thus refuses, but Mickey convinces him to at least take a look at the Murder Book--the log of the investigation that the police have turned over to the defense. Reading the material, Harry notes a number of minor inconsistencies in the evidence, and once he does, he's hooked. Against his better judgement, he agrees to investigate the case and the deeper he gets, the more complex and dangerous things becomes.

This is a very well-written and well-plotted novel. Nobody does police procedural as well as Connelly, and it's a lot of fun watching Harry attempt to pursue the case from outside the police department. It's a standard trope in this sort of novel that the P.I. always has a "friend" in the P.D. who looks things up in the computer and who does other favors for him. There's always another "friend" in the phone company and so on and so forth, enabling the P.I. to gain access to information that no other outsider could get.

Connelly doesn't cheat that way. Harry asks one favor of his old partner who gets him some inside info, but otherwise Harry is on is own and is hugely inventive in developing ways to get the material he needs. He basically starts by pulling at one small loose thread and then follows where it leads him. Watching Bosch work is always a lot of fun, but watching him do so with these limitations is even more so. 

The plot is gripping and moves like the proverbial runaway train, and it's interesting to see Harry Bosch working at odds against the institution he has served for his entire life. It's also very intriguing to see the two half brothers at work and to watch Harry struggle with his conscience throughout the book. All Mickey really needs is for Harry to find something that will raise a reasonable doubt with the prosecution's case. But Bosch will never forgive himself if that's all he does. If Mickey's client isn't guilty, then someone else is, and Harry Bosch won't rest until he finds him. A great read.

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