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City of Bones - DOC

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									“City of Bones,” (2002), is the eighth novel in the American crime author Michael
Connelly‟s best-selling, prize winning LAPD Inspector Harry Bosch series. Of course
Connelly, now a mega-seller in light of the film THE LINCOLN LAWYER, based on the
author‟s book of the same name, has had many best sellers. Connelly is a former
journalist, a crime beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, who certainly earned his spurs
in murder while earning his daily bread.

The Bosch series, Los Angeles-set police procedurals, looks at life on the "noir" side in
that city. Bosch, who was supposedly named after the famous 15th century Dutch painter
by his mother, finds himself drawn into a case that brings up dark memories when the
bones of a schoolboy are found on New Years Day. A retired doctor walking his dog in
the Hollywood Hills has let her off the leash; Calamity brings back a bone that the doctor
is sure is human, and shows signs of terrible, lifelong abuse. Bosch had been orphaned
when he was eleven: the murdered boy appears to be 10-13 years old. As the cops start
looking, more bones quickly come to light: the boy apparently was buried only shallowly.
Bosch will also embark upon an against-the –rules affair with a much-younger woman
cop: one way and another, he‟s in for a bad time. Yet Bosch stubbornly discovers the
child's identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that the boy won't be
forgotten. In what I consider to be one of Connelly‟s most masterful „tours de force,‟ he
comes up with several characters, one after another, and all believable, as the boy‟s
possible murderer. The author further deepens his plot by telling us of the bones that
come out of the La Brea tar pits, an ancient hazard to life now situated in the middle of
busy Los Angeles; recently, the bones of a woman murdered 9,000 years ago had come to
life.

The book at hand gives us several of the supporting players we have become familiar
with in Connelly‟s works: Bosch‟s police supervisor/enemy Irvin Irving, and the
detective‟s partners/former partners Kiz Rider and Jerry Edgar. The author also pulls one
of his favorite little maneuvers here, finding a way to mention another of his works, THE
CLOSERS, which, while not yet written, was probably already outlined: he cleverly does
that by bringing in the popular television show THE CLOSERS, which has actually
nothing to do with his book of the same name. CITY also shows the excellent narrative,
descriptive, and dialogue writing that are characteristic of Connelly, and is informed by
his deep, accurate knowledge of police work, it too is written with great knowledge of,
and love for, Los Angeles, the author's adopted home town. (You could pretty much use
his works instead of a road map). In this book, the writer describes Venice, California,
(the funky beach city adjacent to Santa Monica) with such poetry and power, that I‟ve
remembered his descriptions since my first reading of it-- I had to go and get a good look
at the place on one of my trips to the far coast. And, surely, the book follows in the
footsteps of earlier outstanding hardboiled Los Angeles authors Raymond Chandler and
Ross Macdonald, but adds the further ingredients of a police procedural. Finally,
Connelly explicates his love of jazz as he goes.

And the writing he gives us, as for example, he explains the book‟s title:
“Kohl … was making notations on a piece of paper with a grid already printed on it….
At the top of the page she had written „City of Bones.‟ …. „Why do you call it
that?‟….‟Because we‟re setting out the streets and the blocks of what will become a city
to us,‟….‟At least while we‟re working here it will feel like it. Our little city.‟ Bosch
nodded. „In every murder is the tale of a city,‟ he said. … „Who said that?‟ „I don‟t
know. Somebody did.‟” I‟ve looked that reference up; it‟s to a poet I‟m not familiar
with.

Shortly afterward, he discusses his time as a “tunnel rat,” working the dangerous tunnels
of the Vietnam War, and explains the title of a book yet to be written. LOST LIGHT:
that he also probably already had in outline:

“Lost light. We called it lost light. We never knew where it came from. But it was
down there. Like smoke hanging in the dark. Some people said it wasn‟t light, that it
was the ghosts of everybody who died in those things. From both sides.”

Many of Connelly‟s Bosch, and Lincoln Lawyer series have been New York Times best
sellers, as have some of his recent standalones such as THE SCARECROW. Crime Beat:
A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers, a non-fiction collection of his journalism, was
also a New York Times bestseller. Personally, I consider this to be one of the finest of
the Bosch series; Connelly is writing at his most powerful, and Bosch‟s tenderness of
feeling and empathy towards the young boy and his sad, short life, are palpable.

								
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