Friday, June 23, 2017

A True Classic from Michael Connelly

Trunk Music is Michael Connelly's sixth novel and the fifth of those books to feature L.A. homicide detective, Harry Bosch. It remains my favorite of Connelly's books and my favorite of all police procedurals--an inspiration to me and, I assume, to a good many other authors who write crime fiction.

Harry has been serving time on an administrative leave, which resulted from actions he took in The Last Coyote. He's just returned to the Homicide Desk when he's called to the scene of an apparent murder. Tony Aliso, a Hollywood producer who turns out low-rent, titillating, straight-to-DVD movies, has been found shot to death and stuffed into the trunk of his Rolls Royce, which has been left in a wooded area in the Hollywood Hills. 

While Harry was on leave, the homicide teams were reorganized. Each team now consists of three detectives rather than two, and so in addition to his long-time partner, Jerry Edgar, Bosch is now also teamed with a female African American named Kizmin Rider. As the senior detective, Harry is the team leader and must direct the effort to find Aliso's killer.

This is Harry's first crack at a homicide in a while, and he desperately wants the case. However, the style of the killing clearly suggests that this might have been a mob hit and so Harry has no choice other than to call the department's Organized Crime Investigative Division and inform them of the crime. He fully expects that the O.C.I.D. will examine the case and almost certainly move in and take it away from him, but they insist that they have no interest in the case at all. Harry is relieved, but the fact that O.C.I.D. doesn't even want to look at it sets off the first alarm bell suggesting to Bosch that there may be more to this case than a simple murder.

And, of course, there is. Before long the trail will take Harry and his team back and forth between L.A. and Las Vegas, where the victim was a frequent visitor. And before long, Harry will be butting heads with his perennial nemeses, the F.B.I. and the department's Internal Affairs Division, as well as the Vegas P.D. and, ultimately, the O.C.I.D., which decides that maybe it is interested in the case after all.

Happily, though, he won't be in conflict with his immediate supervisor. Harvey Pounds, the lieutenant who was such a thorn in Bosch's side in the earlier books, has been replaced by Lieutenant Grace Billets, who is much more supportive of Harry and his team. This is a very good thing, because Harry is going to need all the help he can get. 

It's a byzantine case, with all kinds of angles and competing interests playing out against each other, and against Bosch. This remains, I think, the best of all of Connelly's plots--very cleverly designed, and populated with one of his best casts. Bosch is at his peak here, and by this book is a fully-formed character--tough, smart, prickly, and single-minded in the pursuit of his mission. This book grabs me from the first paragraph every time I read it, and it never lets go.

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