This is Michael Connelly's second book and - like his first - features Harry Bosch as its central character. Little has changed for Bosch in the eighteen months since the events of "The Black Echo". He's still a jazz-loving loner who's happy to bend the rules, while his taste for coffee, beer and cigarettes remains undiminished.
As the book begins, it's Christmas Day and our hero is at home, alone and on call. Monitoring police / fire / ambulance radio messages on his scanner, he picks up a message regarding an apparent homicide within Hollywood boundaries that is being dealt with directly by RHD. Despite the fact that it's Christmas, Bosch isn't too happy that he wasn't notified first - as he should've been, according to protocol. Arriving uninvited at the scene of the crime, he tries to edge his way into things. At first glance, it's an apparent suicide involving Cal Moore, another cop working out of the Hollywood Division's narcotics unit. Although they worked in the same department, Bosch didn't know Moore that well. They'd only spoken properly once, about a stalled case Bosch was working : the murder of a drugs runner called Jimmy Kapps. Bosch was hoping Moore could give him a few leads - about the drug he was smuggling in from Hawaii, called Ice, and possible rival gangs who may have been responsible for his death. Bosch was aware, however, he'd had a few problems - including a possible showdown with IAD. Bosch's only involvement in the case, however, is informing Moore's widow.
The following day, Bosch's boss - Harvey '98' Pounds - tells him to stop working the Kapps case and to keep away the Moore case. One of Bosch's fellow homicide detectives, Lou Porter, has decided to retire on stress related grounds - though it has been commonly known for some time that Porter had a drinking problem. Pounds has assigned Porter's cases to Bosch in the hope that Bosch will be able to clear at least one of them by New Year's Eve. Things soon become complicated though - Bosch's investigations constantly bring Cal Moore back into the equation. Of Porter's cases, he settles on the murder of an unidentified Mexican, whose corpse has been found dumped beside the kitchen door of a diner. Although it was Porter's case, Cal Moore had found the corpse. Not long afterwards, Bosch is contacted by Moore's former colleagues - Moore had left a file for Bosch's attention, with some information regarding the Kapps case. The information throws up some interesting coincidences - and Bosch doesn't believe in coincidences. Now believing that Moore case isn't a straightforward suicide, he believes that the cases are so tightly connected that in solving one he'll solve them all.
Like Connolly's first book, I found this a very enjoyable story. Although this is the second book to feature Harry Bosch, it's not entirely necessary to have read the books in order. There's nothing in it that'll have any major impact on this story - but I would recommend reading "The Black Echo" first. It will clarify a couple of minor points and cover some parts of Harry's background.