I first read this story when it was serialized in the New York Times Magazine. Following that, Connelly expanded the story and published it as a novel. I remember enjoying the serialized version, but, as one would expect, the novel winds up being a fuller and richer experience.
As the story opens, Detective Harry Bosch has just been reassigned to the L.A.P.D.'s prestigious Homicide Special Squad. He's sitting up at midnight, waiting for his first call out. When it comes, he's directed to a homicide on an overlook above the city. He arrives to find that a doctor, Stanley Kent, has been murdered execution-style, next to his Porsche, which is has been left with its luggage compartment standing open.
As Harry examines the scene, he is surprised by the arrival of F.B.I. agent Rachel Walling. Walling indicates that the victim, Kent, was a medical physicist who was on a list kept by the federal government. She initially refuses to tell Bosch why Kent was on the list or why she is interested in the case, and insists that they should get to Kent's house A.S.A.P.
Bosch concurs and, on arriving at the house, they discover the victim's wife, naked and tied up on a bed. She tells them that two men invaded the house, forced her to strip, then tied her up and took pictures of her. It appears that terrorists may have used the pictures to force Stanley Kent to give them extremely dangerous radioactive material.
The Feds, of course, want to take over the case and are, logically, pursuing it as part of a dangerous terrorist plot. The material in question could cause thousands of deaths and that is their priority. While Bosch recognizes the threat, from his perspective this is principally a homicide investigation and he insists on being allowed to pursue it. His rational is, find the killers and you find the material they stole.
It's a gripping story that moves very swiftly. Connelly excels at portraying the bureaucratic infighting between the Feds and the local police and it's really fun to watch. The fact that Bosch and Rachel Walling were once lovers only adds fuel to the mix. Bosch, being Bosch, is not about to take a back seat to anyone, especially not the F.B.I. This story first appeared only a few years after the attacks of 9/11, when the threat posed by potential terrorists was even more frightening. Twelve years later, the threat still feels palpable, especially in the hands of a writer as skillful as Michael Connelly, and fans of the series will not want to miss this one.