After making a brief appearance in Michael Connelly’s previous novel, The Brass Verdict, Los Angeles Times reporter Jack McEvoy returns with a novel of his own in The Scarecrow. It’s hard to believe it’s been 13 years since Connelly — and presumably McEvoy — published The Poet, a case McEvoy solved while looking into the death of his brother. Similar to The Poet, where homicides of law enforcement officers were made to look like suicides, The Scarecrow features a trunk murder where the killer frames an unwitting suspect. Again, McEvoy makes the connection and once again, FBI agent Rachel Walling risks her job as she helps McEvoy investigate and falls in love with him. In true Connelly fashion, the Times newsroom scenes are totally realistic as Connelly worked as a crime reporter for the paper in the late 1980s before leaving the profession to become a novelist. As someone who left the newspaper industry in 2001, Connelly’s portrayal of the dying print business strikes a chord, as does the book’s polar opposite setting, a high-tech data center in Arizona. As Connelly and McEvoy turn the page on print journalism, I look forward to a future novel where we can see Connelly’s take on — and McEvoy’s work in — Web journalism.
Archive for category Michael Connelly
When attorney Mickey Haller first appeared in Michael Connelly‘s 16th novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, I was a bit skeptical. I just didn’t think I would enjoy a lawyer mystery. Naturally, Connelly delivered and when I saw that Haller was returning three books later, there was no apprehension on my part. Again, The Brass Verdict delivers and long-time readers are not only rewarded with a significant role by LAPD detective Harry Bosch, but writer Jack McEvoy also makes an appearance. Since we last saw him in the Lincoln Lawyer, Haller has battled a pain-killer addiction while recovering from his gunshot wounds. A colleague and rival, Jerry Vincent, is murdered and it turns out that Vincent’s active caseload has been bequeathed to Haller, including a high-profile murder trial involving a Hollywood producer. Haller butts heads with the detective investigating Vincent’s murder, which happens to be Bosch. In addition to the standard murder mystery, the story also examines legal ethics and focuses on the rocky relationship between Haller and Bosch. The human part of the book doesn’t end there as we also look at Haller’s relationship with his daughter and see him take one of his clients – a troubled, ex-surfer facing prison time — under his wing. Great stuff once again from Connelly, who keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout this legal/mystery/police thriller.
I’m not a big believer in coincidences. Maybe it’s my background in journalism or maybe I just over-analyze things. Whatever the case, I need to stop reading too much into things when I’m reading. Case in point: The Overlook by Michael Connelly. The 13th book in the Harry Bosch series, it was originally written as a 16-part series for the New York Times Magazine. A year later, Connelly expanded it into a novel. The story focuses on a murder that is being investigated by Bosch and his young new partner, Iggy Ferras. Before long, the FBI takes an interest in the case and Bosch is reunited with Rachel Walling, a former flame who appeared in the previous novel, Echo Park. As the case unravels, the plot takes an abrupt turn, which is where the coincidences come into play. (In the last book I reviewed, The Watchman by Robert Crais, the story was set in Los Angeles and it also involved the feds and took a similar abrupt turn near then end.) But enough about coincidences. Both writers are writing about crime in post 9/11 Los Angeles and obviously the feds are a big part of that equation. (In fact, Cold Hit by Stephen J. Cannell, written prior to both books, also features a crime story set in Los Angeles and involves the feds.) Like The Watchman (and coincidences aside), I thought The Overlook was very good, but not great. My only real criticism is the brevity of the book, which obviously is due to the fact that was originally written as a serial. I noticed the book was a bit thinner than usual, but what hit me afterwards was the feeling that the book felt rushed and seemed to climax very quickly. The other thing I’m not sure about is the bonus chapter, which was published in the paperback edition. To me, I would feel cheated if I had purchased the hardcover edition which was missing the chapter.
What can you say about a Michael Connelly novel that hasn’t already been written before? Good question. But I’ll give it a try. Echo Park is the 12th book in the Harry Bosch series (and his 17th work of fiction) and like a lot of people, I’ve read them all. Unlike a lot of people, I stop reading a popular series when the author gets a big head or his main character becomes an unbelievable super hero — Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan, raise your hand. I also stop reading when the Hollywood ending is 10 times better than the book’s ending — John Grisham, you lost me at The Firm. Bosch, meanwhile, is the same crime-fighting bastard he’s always been. And Connelly still refuses to sell Hollywood the rights to his famous character based in Hollywood. And, of course, he keeps pumping out quality stuff. In Echo Park, Connelly starts with a flashback to a case Harry and Jerry Edgar worked in 1993, one that still haunts Bosch 13 years later. And it’s Bosch’s pig-headed persistence that puts things into motion in this story. In addition to the cameo by Edgar — and the far-too-coincidental introduction of his cousin, Gary — reporter Keisha Russell and long-time nemesis Irving Irving make appearances. Connelly obviously enjoys having Bosch interact with a top-notch Los Angeles Times crime reporter, which he himself once was. The mention of Irving, meanwhile, reminds me of how Connelly has grown as a writer. In one early book, Connelly described Irving in cartoon character-like form — as a buffoon who clenched his jaws and golf balls formed. That character is now a strong, very serious nemesis to Bosch, just as Connelly is a strong, very serious player in the crime fiction arena.