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Echo Park

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									"Echo Park" (2006) is the 12th in Michael Connelly's best-selling Harry Bosch series of
mystery novels. The series, Los Angeles-set police procedurals, looks at life on the "noir"
side; Connelly is a former crime beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who certainly
earned his spurs in murder while earning his daily bread. His recent standalones, The
Scarecrow, The Brass Verdict, and The Lincoln Lawyer, have all been #1 New York
Times Bestsellers.Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers, a non-fiction
collection of his journalism, was also a New York Times bestseller, as most of his
previous standalones have been, too.

The book at hand is a strong one, with a complex, multi-layered plot, though it does rely
too heavily on some pretty predictable, television-style clichés for me. It finds LAPD
Detective Hieronymus Bosch returned to the police force, on the Open-Unsolved Unit,
where he is still plugging away at a 1993 case he was unable to close at the time, the
abduction and presumed murder of equestrienne Marie Gesto. Mind you, Bosch thinks he
knows the murderer: he just hasn't got any evidence that would nail the man. But
suddenly the detective receives a phone call from an assistant district attorney, Rick
O'Shea, vying for the corner office. A heinous serial killer, Raynard Waits, whom nobody
even knew was functioning, has been caught red-handed: he's ready to cop to several
murders, including Gesto's, in order to escape the death penalty. Bosch is charged with
pursuing matters for the Gesto case. In so doing, he will endanger his partner, Kiz Ryder;
and again cross paths with Rachel Walling, FBI profiler; Jerry Edgar, his former partner,
and Keisha Russell, LA Times reporter.

Connelly is a wonderful writer, my favorite among American mystery authors, and I've
read all his books save "Scarecrow." (Like many other readers, I imagine, I prefer his
series works to his standalones: like many other writers, his mysteries seem more
powerful if they are filtered through the sensibilities of his favorite detective protagonist.)
At any rate, Connelly's plots drive like Mack trucks; furthermore, they are tight, complex,
and resonant. His dialog snaps, his narrative writing is terse and witty. He explicates his
love of jazz as he goes. And his descriptive writing: well, it's heartfelt, written by a man
in love with a city, and it's so precise that a stranger could find his way around LA, his
adopted hometown, with a few of his books as guides. This is a strong entry in the Bosch
series, though it is not as deeply felt as some, and therefore, not the strongest. Still worth
reading if you enjoy his work.

								
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