“He believed that every case had a black box. A piece of evidence, a person, a positioning of facts that brought a certain understanding and helped explain what had happened and why.”
In 1992, during the days that followed the acquittal of the police officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King, all hell broke loose in Los Angeles; rioting, looting and random violence where the order of the day. And while most of the police force was busy trying to stop the riots and regain control of the city, Harry Bosch and his partner were being driven from murder victim to murder victim in order to get as many details and evidence as they could before the bodies were removed and the investigation postponed to a later date. One of those bodies belonged to a young Danish journalist, killed execution style. And although Harry retrieved a bullet casing from the scene the case never even came close to being solved. Now, twenty years later, Bosch has reopened the case in the hope of at last getting justice for the young woman who found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. With new ballistic evidence available to him, it looks as if Bosch has a real chance of getting answers for the journalist’s family. But as the evidence piles up and Bosch discovers more about the journalist and why she was in L.A. at the time, his investigation takes an unexpected and terrifying turn.
Of course this wouldn’t be a Harry Bosch story if he didn’t find himself at odds with his superiors. His quest for justice always seems to conflict with their administrative objectives. And, although most of this book deals with the old murder and the present day investigations we also get glimpses of Bosch’ private life; his, at times difficult, relationship with Hannah and his struggles with being a parent to a teenage daughter. And as far as the parenting is concerned, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for our hero at times. While it is true that he came to his daughter and parenting very late, I wish somebody would let him know that dealing with a teenager is always fraught with emotional ups and downs, regardless of how good a parent someone is.
Anybody who has been reading my reviews regularly will know that I’m a huge fan of Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch and have been since I first discovered them in 2003. The mysteries in these books are always well plotted and fascinating to read about. I love that Harry Bosch is all police officer and always on the quest for the truth, and I adore his determination to get justice for the victims even if it means breaking the rules or putting his own life on the line. While I don’t quite believe that any police officer in the real world would get away with Harry’s breaches of the rules, they do add an extra dimension to the story and greatly increase the tension.
My only worry about this series of books is that it must be nearing its end. With Harry getting ever closer to forced retirement I dread the day when he will be forced to say goodbye to the job he is so good at. I’m sure there are at least a few more books to come before that day arrives, but still; my reading year wouldn’t be the same without an encounter with one of my favourite crime characters. Of course, if Harry’s daughter indeed does decide to follow in her father’s footsteps there are opportunities there for a whole new series of books but still…
Overall I would call this a very well written, exquisitely plotted and unputdownable mystery-thriller. A must read for anyone who enjoys this genre.
On a final note, I love it when one great author name-checks a book by another great author, as Michael Connelly does in The Black Box when he has Harry’s daughter Maddy reading “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green for a school assignment.