Saturday, July 22, 2017

"The Wrong Side of Goodbye" Is Another Great Novel from Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch has finally left the L.A.P.D. behind for good, but his mission as a homicide detective remains in his blood--it still defines who he is. Accordingly, while he's now working as a P.I., he's also volunteering as a reserve officer in the small, understaffed and underfunded police department in San Fernando. Harry is basically the department's Cold Case unit, investigating still unsolved crimes. There's no paycheck, but Harry still gets to carry a detective's badge and he still gets to do the work that gives meaning to his life.

In his capacity as a P.I., Harry is summoned to the mansion of an elderly tycoon named Whitney Vance. Vance is now a billionaire in charge of a huge company. But when he was a young college student in Southern California, he had a brief affair with a Mexican girl who became pregnant. But Vance's father drove the young woman away and Vance never saw her again. He also never knew whether she had his baby and if so, what might have happened to it.

Now on the verge of his death, Vance is embarrassed by the cowardice of his youth and wants, at long last, to make amends if at all possible. He hires Harry to find out if he does have an heir. He warns Bosch that powerful forces would be upset if this should turn out to be the case. If he has no heir, his board of directors effectively inherits his company, and the board members would not look kindly on any competition to their claim. Vance swears Bosch to secrecy and sends him on his way.

At the same time, in his capacity as a reserve detective in San Fernando, Harry has discovered a disturbing pattern in some old case files, suggesting that a serial rapist was working in the area and may, in fact, still be attacking women there. The attacker becomes known as the "Screen Cutter" because of the way in which he gains entry into the women's homes. And finding the man and getting him off the streets is a must.

As the novel progresses, Harry bounces back and forth between the two cases and each is extremely urgent. The rapist must be caught before any more women are victimized, but Vance's heir--if, indeed, there is one--must be found before the old man dies. 

Connelly tells this story as only he can, and the reader is engrossed in both cases practically from the opening paragraph of the book. Bosh remains one of the most compelling characters in modern crime fiction, and no living crime writer captures the city of Los Angeles as well as his creator. Twenty-six books into the world of Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly has solidified his claim as the logical heir of Raymond Chandler, and this is a book that will certainly appeal to anyone who loves great crime fiction.

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