Tag Archives: Michael Connelly

Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Or was it The Confession by Grisham?We gathered up a stack of books to drop off at a nearby library’s used book room. Among them: The Reversal, a recently published crime thriller by the great Michael Connelly. We had purchased it only a few months ago and read it straight through. One gulp. The last word on the last page had barely finished resonating before we stuck the bestseller on a shelf and returned to the grim demands of daily life.

Until this morning when it came off that shelf (where we found it next to Grisham’s The Confession) we had not given The Reversal a moment’s thought. We’d forgotten we owned it. We couldn’t swear that we had even read the novel. Flipping through the book, examining a passage here, a passage there, brought nothing of the story back to mind.

Okay, we know it featured a regular Connelly character named Mickey Haller, the “Lincoln Lawyer,” an ethics-challenged defense attorney, half-brother to Connelly’s police detective hero, Harry Bosch.

But we know all that mostly because it says so on the cover. We also spotted both names while we searched the book to jog our memory. Memory remained otherwise unjogged. What “reversal”? What crime? Who did what and why? How did Haller and Bosch triumph, and over whom? No image, no episode, no snatch of dialogue bubbled up from the depths. We were stumped.

We dropped The Reversal back atop the stack of books to be recycled and thought, “That has got to be the very definition of a great read.”

The Reversal by Michael Connelly. Highly recommended.


Reichen-Bosch Falls

The last seat on the plane. 23F. A crue seat.

Maybe Michael Connelly has reached the point in his mystery book career at which he yearns to emulate his Vocational Ancestor, Arthur Conan Doyle who, sick of his money-making hero, Sherlock Holmes, opted to get rid of him altogether by dumping him (along with that Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarty) into the Reichenbach Falls.

Not that Connelly’s paycheck, Harry Bosch, sleeps the Big Sleep in this newest of the Bosch adventures, Nine Dragons. Or maybe he does. I’ll never know.

The first half of the book provided very effective distraction from the claustrophobic seating on my flight the other day from LA to NYC, and for that I am so very very grateful. It’s straight-up police procedural as age-defying Harry and his LAPD chums piece together itsy-bitsy clues (a glimpse of tattoo on a forearm in a security film; a bottle of booze NOT taken) to figure out what no-goodnik shot the kindly old Chinese liquor store owner. Good Bosch, good reading, a welcome diversion that kept me from going berserk in my tiny, last row window seat — crazy like the sailor in the submarine movie who snaps and tries to open the hatch while 500 feet under the surface. Nine Dragons helped me forget where I was. Thank you, Mr. Connelly.

But, O! That second half! Bosch, departing Los Angeles, the guided tour of which is at least half the reason to read Connelly, follows the trail to Hong Kong where, in defiance of Ronald Knox’s Fifth Commandment of Detective Fiction, he does battle with the Tongs of Hong Kong in the company of — get this — a faithful Chinese partner. O pity! Pity for Bosch, pity for Connelly, pity for myself and all other fans of the swell series — pity which barred further reading. I had enjoyed most of the other Bosch books too greatly to let this one besmirch their memory.

I left Nine Dragons, unfinished, lying on a desk in the Hotel Roger Williams on Madison Avenue and 31st Street, and — who knows — perhaps to this very day it lies there still.

Nine Dragons
by Michael Connelly
(Little Brown and Company, Hardcover, 384pp.)
Publication Date: October 13, 2009

Addendum: The two guys next to me in seats 23D and 23E fidgeted so much I had to kill them.

Two dead men on the airplane.

Back of Jack Mack Back (Scarecrow Review Part II)

Phobos and Deimos have no opinion on the book. They do not read. They FIGHT.

I finished Michael Connelly’s new excitmobook, The Scarecrow, in part because I want to be an honest book reviewer, not one who scans a volume, perhaps reading the first and last pages, and who then concocts a bit of fiction for the pages of the local paper confident no one will ever read either the faux review or its subject. Duty to you, reader, drove me forward. But more than duty, burning curiosity motivated my need to scan each and every page of the thriller. Would the good guys win? Would the bad guys lose?

Because the good guy portions of the story are narrated in the first person I was fairly certain the narrator at least survived to tell the tale, but hasn’t Agatha Christie so cleverly shown us how there is no convention of novel writing that cannot be subverted to the purpose of tricking the reader? See Dame Agatha’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd if you don’t believe me.

And so I breezed through the bloody tale of Jack McEvoy and Rachel Walling (a crime reporter and an FBI agent respectively) as they closed in on Mr. Scarecrow and his scheme involving the use of his data storage company to snare hapless dancin’ girls. (Not a spoiler. Revealed in the opening pages.) Having done so, I am able to report to you with a clean conscience that Connelly delivers again. You liked Void Moon? You will like The Scarecrow. You liked Chasing the Dime? You will like, etc.

I was so caught up in the action — including guns-aplenty, surprise corpse discovery, an endangered pooch, a knife vs lamp fight, a thirteen story plunge, a CO2 gas attack, a deteriorating banana, and a menacingly brandished shovel — that I sped right on by the final page of the book, like Wile E. Coyote running off the edge of a cliff, and was startled by back cover author photo. Reader, I screamed!

The Scarecrow
by Michael Connelly
(Little Brown and Company, Hardcover, 448pp.)

Jack Mack Back (Scarecrow Review Part I)

The dogs are named Phobos and Deimos

Michael Connelly, not an author to waste a character, brings back the crime reporter hero of a previous thrillah, The Poet (1996). As the curtain rises on The Scarecrow, we find Jack McEvoy, late of the late Rocky Mountain News, dashing around the mean streets of Los Angeles gathering stories of urban homicide for a dwindling handful of morbid LA Times readers.

I know all this because on the day of its publication I zipped out and snagged my shiny copy of The Scarecrow, the new Boschless novel from Mr. Connelly. This one, like it’s prequel, is named after the antagonist, another one of those annoying serial killers. The dander of the police, the FBI and McEvoy, upon whom are inflicted the dead bodies of many pretty young things stuffed in car trunks and other less traditional places, is gotten up. The Scarecrow details the working out of that getting up of dander.

I’m only halfway through my wide-eyed reading of Mr. McEvoy’s life and death struggle contra Mr. Scarecrow, and so I am unable to justly render a final judgment, but I can no more resist the compulsion to hurry onward to the presumably exciting conclusion than I can see a cow while I’m driving and not say “Moo.” Isn’t that judgment enough for a thrillah?

No? Well, besides the page-turning Connelly knows so well how to command, the reader (that’s me, maybe you) gets the author’s trademark location work: You Are There. The Los Angeles landscape gets such vivid description in The Scarecrow, the book could be given a new jacket design and remarketed as a city guide. I’ve always liked Connelly’s LA, but now, as a new Angeleno, I enjoy even more the scene-setting, getting a kick, for example, out having been in the very spot where the first body is dumped. Not, I hasten to add, at the time of the dumping. As a former Chicagoan I can tell you, too, that Connelly’s descriptions of the Northside in McEvoy’s previous star vehicle, The Poet, are accurate down to the brickwork of the police station at Western and Belmont. There’s that.

Then there’s Connelly’s meticulous and plausible descriptions of the minutiae of newspaper work — the same sort of careful exposition he brings to the nuts and bolts of policework in his Bosch books. If learning about budget meetings, deadline strategies and deployment of the GA group (“general assignment” reporters) doesn’t excite the same bloody-minded curiousity as does the cop stuff, at least in this age of the decline of paper papers it serves as a sort of historical preservation — like Colonial Williamsburg — for future generations to wonder at.

The Scarecrow
by Michael Connelly
(Little Brown and Company, Hardcover, 448pp.)

Bosch Sites VI.V

It doesn't smell as pretty as it looks.

Back in the post titled “Bosch Sites VI” I promised you a better view of the canals in Venice, CA. Look: I am true to my word. Stopped by on way back from LAX, actually FOUND A PARKING SPOT, and snapped a bunch of photos. It was fun to see all the different waterfowl, none of whom would sit still for a portrait. A pelican kept gliding under the bridges to light on the canal over and over again.

I stood on bridge in first photo to take this photo.

I also promised way back in Bosch Site VI to find the very home described in City of Bones:

“Julia Brasher lived in a house at the corner of the Howland and Eastern canals. Bosch expected it to be one of the new structures. He guessed she probably used her law-firm money to buy it or even build it. But as he came to the address he saw that he was wrong. Her house was a small bungalow made of white clapboard with an open front porch overlooking the joining of the two canals.”, [City of Bones, 2002]

But I forgot the intersection. Sorry, Connelly fans. Next time!

Bosch Sites VII — Angels Flight

From a steep little park south of the incline railway.

It’s almost too easy to get photos for the Michael Connelly police novel Angel’s Flight, featuring the dour detective Harry Bosch. The Angel’s Flight funicular railway is an oft-photographed bit of L.A. oddity just east of the downtown skyscrapers. Built in 1901, refurbished every so often — it’s closed even now for yet another refurbishment — the two cable cars have been peacefully hoisting passengers up and lowering passengers down for over a century. It took the evil mind of a mystery writer to turn it into a crime scene — and a double homicide at that!

Still, I thought it might be worth the while of Bosch readers to get some new angles on the locus and I think this handful of humble snaps are successful in doing that.

First, here’s Harry on the scene:

“Bosch had ridden the inclined railroad as a kid and had studied how it worked. He still remembered. The two matching cars were counterbalanced. When one went up the side-by-side tracks the other went down, and vice versa. They passed each other at the midpoint. He remembered riding on Angels Flight long before Bunker Hill had been reborn as a slick business center of glass and marble towers, classy condominiums and apartments, museums, and fountains referred to as water gardens. Back then the hill had been a place of once-grand Victorian homes turned into tired-looking rooming houses.” [Angel’s Flight, 1999]

Angel's Flight, lower terminus.At top of the post, we have a photo taken by your intrepid reporter from the very steep slope of a park to the south of the tracks. There are the two cars stopped midpoint, awaiting whatever repairs the operation is undergoing. A guy who works there assured me it would be open again soon.

Here, to the left, is a view of the whole shebang looking west from across Hill Street. There is the lower terminus — now sealed — the tracks (see how they separate at the midpoint to accomodate two vehicles?), the two cable cars themselves, gabbing, and, finally, way up there at the top of Bunker Hill (yes, really) is the housing for the cables and wheels and gears.

There’s a huge fountain-filled plaza up there serving the museums and office buildings that surround it. While the train awaits repair you must climb those many stairs on the left to enjoy a caffeine treat at one of the many little tables that dot the plaza.

The set-up must be eight feet tall.Strengthened by hikes into the upper reaches of the Santa Monicas, I was able to make it to the summit of Bunker Hill. There, halfway to the stars at the upper gate, I tried to take photos through the window of the shiny machinery that made the magic happen but window glare fought me. Happily, an Angels Flight caretaker was on hand. He was kind enough to let me into the cable house to obtain the photo you see to the right. The guy told me he hadn’t read Angel’s Flight yet because his wife had told him he must read the Bosch series in order and he was still on the earlier ones. He’d met Connelly, though, and we both mused a while on how such a nice guy could come up with such wicked thoughts as murder in this cheerful spot.

Of course, a spooky spot might put timorous folks on their guard making it that much harder to slay them according to the requirements of the drama, so a cheerful locale might be just the ticket for your professional murder novel culprit. In this case, he would have chosen well indeed.

Atop Bunker Hill.

I mean, look! See how peaceful and sunny it is. Why, there’s even a woman happily exercising, not a care in the… but, wait! Could she be the multiple murderer? For that matter, what about the guy who unlocked the cable house? He had the means and opportunity… what could the motive be? And why do I think that a mere weblog photographer has some special protection from the maniacs that lurk in this Halloween-colored nexus of horror?

Escape!Fortunately for me, returning to the relative safety of Hill Street and my semi-legally parked RAVmobile is as easy as skipping with some haste down this many-angled set of stairs, footsteps echoing behind me.

Those are the sinister ties of the inclined railway you see to the left, above the hand rail. And there, there, at the bottom is the lower terminus and freedom — but it never seems to be nearer no matter how fast I run.

I’m scribbling these notes on the back of an informational flyer about Grand Central Market (another scenic spot across Hill Street). In the event of my disappearance and the retrieval of the flyer and my little EasyShare Kodak, please post to my weblog. I can face death at the hands of a raving lunatic, but the thought of my dear readers going unserved is too bitter to contemplate.

Angels Flight, a Harry Bosch police thriller by Michael Connelly, Warner Brother paperback, 480 angst-ridden pages.

Bosch Sites VI

In Michael Connelly’s 2002 police novel, City of Bones, Det. Harry Bosch goes to visit his girl friend — a girl cop! — at her home in Venice. Connelly, ever the reporter, pauses to give us a little history of the city.

Bosch in Venice

See the bridge way back there? We had only a moment to stop by the canals, so this is the only Venice photo I have for you today. Next time we’re in the area we’ll search out a clapboard house fitting Connelly’s description (following the passage quoted above) of the girl cop’s place. Or not.

Here’s a Wikipedia photo of the deamer himself, Abbot Kinney:

A man, a plan, a canal -- Venice!