"The Black Ice," (1993) is the powerful second novel, following on The Black Echo, 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 journalist, a crime beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, who certainly earned his spurs in murder while earning his daily bread. Even his recent standalones, The Scarecrow, The Brass Verdict, and The Lincoln Lawyer, have all been #1 New York Times Bestsellers; as has Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers, a non-fiction collection of his journalism. Anyone who lives in relatively northern climes knows what "black ice" means to us: if snow has melted during a sunny day, then refreezes in the colder night, it will constitute black ice: hard to see, and dangerous. This meaning of the term certainly informs the book. But Connelly here gives another meaning to black ice. It is apparently the street name given by Mexican cartels to a powerful combination of cocaine, heroin, and PCP dust that was, at one time, supposed to be the next big thing in the drug world. Whether it ever was or not, I've no idea. At any rate, Connelly posits a world in which Hawaiian drug cartels, which invented the product and called it "glass," are fighting the Mexican cartels for control of the LA market in it. This has apparently resulted in four murders; one Hawaiian drug mule, one Mexican laborer, and two LA cops. The book boasts riveting, tight relatively fresh plots; excellent narrative and descriptive writing, and snappy dialogue. It is informed by Connelly's deep, accurate knowledge of police work, after several years' experience on the cop shop beat. And, it is written with great knowledge of, and love for, Los Angeles, the author's adopted home town. It clearly follows in the footsteps of earlier outstanding hardboiled LA authors Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, but adds the further ingredients of a police procedural, as it charts the early career of Connelly's creation, LAPD Detective Bosch, now assigned to Hollywood Homicide, still fighting the Vietnam War in his nightmares. It also introduces many characters we will come to know better in later Bosch novels - Connelly must really be a whiz at pre-planning his work. At any rate, mention is made of Bosch's partner on the force, Jerry Edgar, and two of the force's superior officers, Irvin Irving and Harvey Pounds. Also Bremmer, crime reporter of the LA Times. And Bosch's mother, a murdered LA prostitute. And the father he never knew, prominent defense attorney Jerry Haller. And, accordingly, Bosch's half-brother, prominent defense attorney Mickey Haller. And, perhaps most resonant to me, the coyote that lives in the gully below Bosch's house, whom he's named "Timido." 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 detective protagonist.) At any rate, Connelly's plots drive like Mack trucks; furthermore, they are complex, and resonant. 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 with a few of his books as guides. If you've come to Connelly through his newer books, you really owe yourself the two earliest novels. They set a benchmark he -- or anyone else-- would have trouble reaching.