The Black Box by Michael Connelly

The Black Box
The Black Box

by Michael Connelly
Series: Harry Bosch, #18

Paperback, 480 pg.
Grand Central Publishing, 2013

There are few mystery series as satisfying as the Harry Bosch novels (those who’ve read the last couple of “Saturday Miscellany” posts have probably noticed my geeking out about the Bosch pilot for Amazon). Whenever a new paperback comes out, I grab it as soon as I can, and post a “Go Away, I’m Reading” sign*. I can’t get enough of this guy.

A while back, Connelly moved Harry to the Open-Unsolved Unit, which was a very smart move that’s paid off in variety of cases and gives an extra edge to Harry’s cases — he’s always been obsessive about giving resolution to the victim’s families and loved ones, but now it’s also about justice delayed, about being able to start getting past years — decades even — of pain.

Harry’s got a personal connection to the cold case he’s focusing on this time — during the riots that broke out after the Rodney King verdict, Harry and his partner were called out on a series of homicides. One in particular was a white woman in an alley, shot execution-style. Before being forced to go to the next victim, they were only able to spend about half an hour looking over the crime scene and finding practically no evidence that wasn’t contaminated. As with many other homicides over those few days, this one remained unsolved. But for the 20th anniversary of the riots, all these cases are being looked at again, in hopes of garnering some good PR for the LAPD.

Naturally, the only case that Harry (or pretty much anyone else) finds the most traction on involves a white woman — and Harry starts being pressured by his lieutenant and some even higher to hold off on the investigation for a few months. Naturally, Harry doesn’t take well to that and does what he can to solve this case once and for all. There’s a lot of luck involved in Harry uncovering what he needs here — but that’s the beauty of routine and thorough investigative work — you end up creating your own luck.

Meanwhile, Harry has to deal with a politically-motivated Professional Standards Bureau (Internal Affairs) investigation into a perfectly legitimate activity. The good news for Harry is that the investigator assigned to the case is as driven and thorough as he is. The bad news is that means she’ll be a persistent interference in his life until she uncovers the truth — and that’s the last thing Harry can tolerate.

Of course, there’s a good storyline featuring Harry’s daughter, Maddie. He’s still new to the “Dad” scene, and makes more mistakes with her than he can tolerate — it’s tough enough being a father to a teenage girl, but when the girl is dropped on you because her mother was murdered and you have to be a parent for the first time? You’ve already got 2 strikes on you. As almost superhuman as he is as a cop, as a father? Harry’s very human. It’s good to see.

And if he’s human as a father, as a romantic interest? You have to feel sorry for Hannah Stone, his current main squeeze. Harry’s practically inept. Still, it’s a good storyline, and I’m glad to see that Harry hasn’t blow it (yet) with Hannah.

If you’ve never read Connelly before — the guy can make a trip to a food truck to grab some tacos into a thriller. So he has no problem making a 20 year-old unsolved murder into an edge-of-your-seat experience. You don’t need to have read the previous 15 books in this series to appreciate this one — jump in, the water’s more than fine.


*Not literally, but my kids can attest that my expression conveys that message effectively.


4 Stars