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.”