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In Michael Connelly's tenth Harry
Bosch detective novel, the homicide cop returns to the LAPD from retirement to
investigate a cold case. Bosch is long
in the tooth, and some of his colleagues are not happy that he is back. It has been three years since he retired,
and the new police chief makes it clear that he has to produce results. Other people are watching his every move,
sure that he has lost his touch, and that he will soon make a mistake; when he
does, they plan to pounce and get him thrown out. So Harry's reputation is on the line. Harry may be a man
dedicated to avenging the deaths of murder victims, and he may be a great
detective with superb intuitions, but he can also be a loose cannon, and in a
time when the police department is under ethical scrutiny, he cannot afford to
He and his partner Kiz Rider are
given a case from 1988. A
sixteen-year-old girl, Becky Verloren, was killed after being abducted from her
house, taken to a secluded area, and shot in the heart. The murder was clumsily disguised as a
suicide. It wasn't clear what the
motive for the murder was, but it seemed that she probably knew her
killer. Furthermore, she had recently
had an abortion. The detectives at the
time were not able to solve the crime, and they had been sloppy in their
work. The case is revived because a
sample of blood discovered in the mechanism of the gun has been examined for
DNA, and now has been matched with a local man. Harry and Kiz plan to make a case against this man before
confronting him. But of course it turns
out that it is not so simple, and Harry is not even sure that the killer is the
person whose blood was in the gun.
The plot takes many twists and
turns, but it focuses on Harry's solving of the crime. Long-time fans of Bosch will be familiar
with some of his family history, his past romances and his young daughter, but
they are all very much in the background here.
The book takes the form of a "crime procedural" and thankfully
the crime is relatively ordinary, as opposed to the far-fetched drama that was
the subject of the previous Bosch novel, The Narrows (reviewed in
Metapsychology March 2005). The advantage of
a character who has appeared in many previous novels is that it does not take
much exposition of his past to make his current situation meaningful. Connelly takes us through the events at an
even pace, and readers can try to guess who killed Becky Verloren along with the
detective. The writing is competent and
consistent, and the plot is well-constructed.
I listened to the unabridged
audiobook version performed magnificently by Len Cariou. It is striking that some Amazon.com reader
comments complain about the stilted dialog, since Cariou manages to make it all
sound perfectly natural. His Bosch is
just the kind of hardboiled LA detective that we would hope for.
The Closers is a strong
work, compared to Connelly's recent novels and compared to Connelly's current
competitors. For example, having just
read 4th of July (reviewed in Metapsychology June 2005), which is also
currently in the best-sellers lists, I can compare the two, and report that
Connelly's novel stands head and shoulders above the other. It might not have any great insights into
modern life or the human condition, but it does present some detailed
characterization and plausible forensic details, and when you finish, you
should feel pretty satisfied rather than as if you have been manipulated into
keep on reading to the end.
© 2005 Christian
Perring. All rights reserved.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long
Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His
main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and
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