Written by Michael Connelly — This year, we crime fiction lovers have celebrated 20 years of acquaintance with LAPD Detective Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch. Michael Connelly’s first little gift to us was the reissue of The Black Echo, the book in which Harry first appeared. Now we’re treated to a double delight with the arrival of The Black Box – a brand-new Bosch story.
Fittingly enough, it begins 20 years ago, during the 1992 LA Riots which followed the acquittal of four LAPD officers charged with the savage beating of Rodney King. As the novel opens, Los Angeles is ablaze as officers from all over the city fight to keep order – and as Harry and his partner Jerry Edgar are called to yet another possible homicide, he is surprised to find the body of a white woman, apparently executed, in a darkened alley.
The victim is foreign journalist Anneke Jespersen, apparently in LA to cover the riots. But why was she killed? It’s a question that Harry doesn’t have time to ponder as he and his partner are called elsewhere and he is forced to hand over the case to the Riot Crimes Task Force, but the mystery haunts him in the ensuing years. Not surprising then, that he volunteers to reopen the cold case 20 years later.
Of course, solving crime has come a long way since 1992, and new ballistics evidence is the first break for Harry – Anneke’s death was not random, and the gun used to kill her has had something of a chequered history. He’s is determined to give Anneke’s family some closure – but will his boss, O’Toole (known by all who work under him as O’Fool, and with good reason) allow him to get on with the job?
Bosch fans will recognise classic Harry traits throughout this book. He fights against authority at every end and turn. He’s determined to go it alone in the face of obvious danger in search of the vital clue that will break the case – the Black Box of the title, which is like the black box on an aircraft that helps investigators discover why it crashed. New though, is his burgeoning relationship with teenage daughter Maddie, a feisty youngster who appears determined to follow her dad into the police force. It’s a neat move by Connelly which certainly adds a great deal to the book. We’re used to Harry sitting alone in the dark, listening to classic jazz and pondering the ins and outs of whatever case he is engaged in. Now he has Maddie there too – and she even buys him jazz for his birthday, bless!
If Harry ever retires (God forbid) I can see Maddie becoming a central character in her own right. But let her have some teenage life of her own first, please. For me, the one jarring note was seeing the pair spend quality time at the LAPD gun range. Granted, Maddie loved it, but I think she needs a bit more time to be a teenager before the double act of Bosch and Daughter hit the mean streets of Los Angeles.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars