THE BLACK BOX: MICHAEL CONNELLY

Posted: December 1, 2012 in review, USA

51H1aQ0GtWL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_During the LA riots of 1992, which followed the acquittal of four LAPD police officers for the beating of Rodney King, homicide detective Harry Bosch is called to the body of Anneke Jespersen, a white female journalist, shot through the eye in what looks like an execution. In the chaos of the riots with shooting, looting and burning buildings all around Harry is called to another case and the murder of Anneke Jespersen is passed on to the Riot Crimes Task Force.

Twenty years later Harry now working in the cold case unit gets a lead when modern technology links the gun used in the murder of Anneke Jespersen with more recent gang killings. The reader is taken on a classic police procedural journey as Harry methodically and systematically pursues all the leads which will take him to the “black box’ that will unlock the case. This is one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about the plot before you start reading. 

Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch has always been one of my favourite detectives and this book reminded me of his appeal as he clashes with his politically motivated superiors. 

“You forgot that I close cases. Not for the stats you send up to the tenth-floor Power Point shows. For the victims. And their families. And that’s something you’ll never understand because you’re not out there like the rest of us.”

His daughter Madeline is now living with him and Harry is struggling with the complications of dealing with a teenage daughter. There is a very interesting section when Harry takes Madeline to try out the Forces Options Simulator at the police academy where she goes through various shoot/don’t shoot scenarios on the computer. 

“You are within policy if your action is in immediate defense of life. That can mean your life or somebody else’s. It doesn’t matter.”

The jazz loving Harry Bosch usually has his own policies when it comes to dealing with criminals. What I really liked about The Black Box was that it was a straightforward police procedural without the fancy bells and whistles, italicised thoughts of dead people, multiple perspectives, numerous flashbacks and other writing techniques that characterise so many of today’s crime fiction. It seemed old fashioned, and despite the use of mobile phones, as if it had come from a different era. I enjoyed The Black Box so much that I am tempted to go back and read both the early Harry Bosch books again, and the last couple of books that I have missed. 

“I had just come back from the war in Vietnam, and people like me-you know, ex-soldiers from over there-they weren’t accepted back here. Especially by people our own age.”   

Comments
  1. Norman – Excellent review, for which thanks. I’ve always really liked Bosch too on a number of levels. He’s such a terrific character isn’t he? And you make a very well-taken point about the structure of the best Bosch novels. They are simply excellent police procedurals. I like them for that too.

  2. Jose Ignacio says:

    Norman I’m glad to hear that you are quote tempted to go back and read both the early Harry Bosch books again, and the last couple of books that I have missed. unquote. Actually I have The Black Echo on top of my TBR pile and I’m planning to read the series in chronological order.

  3. Norm, you have convinced me that I need to return to Michael Connelly. It’s been too long here.

  4. [...] During the LA riots of 1992, which followed the acquittal of four LAPD police officers for the beating of Rodney King, homicide detective Harry Bosch is called to the body of Anneke Jespersen, a white female journalist, shot through the eye in what looks like an execution. In the chaos of the riots with shooting, looting and burning buildings all around Harry is called to another case and the murder of Anneke Jespersen is passed on to the Riot Crimes Task Force. …  [...]

  5. Norman Price says:

    Thanks Margot. Funny after saying I liked the straight police procedural I moved on to start a book with multiple perspectives which I am enjoying. ;-)

    Thanks Jose Ignacio whenever I plan to do a reread like that new books come along to be read. But I remember those early Harry Bosch books were really good although after all these years I can’t recall the plots.

    Thanks Rhian I think all crime series should be limited to ten books then I might have the time to read them all. You leave an author like Connelly for a few years and find you have to read five books to catch!

  6. kathy d. says:

    No wonder you like The Black Box. Harry Bosch is a multi-layered, intelligent police detective, not a yahoo cop. He thinks, and thinks a lot.
    And, Michael Connelly knows how to write characters, plots, denouements without a lot of hoopla. He just can do it and does.
    That puts him head and shoulders above many mystery writers, many of whom don’t have his writing ability or his thinking process — thus, they resort fo all sorts of plot devices, many of which do not work.
    It’s interesting, such a diverse group of readers and we all like Harry Bosch.

  7. Norman Price says:

    Kathy I agree and the fact that Harry cares about victims and their families is the clincher for me. Some writers should repeat every morning “I am not Agatha Christie, I can’t do clever twists” and I am not Asa Larsson “I can’t do dead people talking”.
    As you say Michael Connelly does not need fancy tricks to produce a great read.

  8. [...] at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan, John Sheridan at Mysteries Bookshelf, Norman Price at Crime Scraps,  Raven Crime Reads, by Anne Corey at Reviewing the [...]

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