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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Connelly Delivers a Very Good Harry Bosch Novel
I've been counting down the days until the appearance of this latest instalment in the Harry Bosch series from one of the biggest guns in the genre, Michael Connelly. I was halfway through `City of Lies' by R J Ellory when Connelly came-a-calling and he's one of the few writers for whom I'd have no question in laying down another author's work to finish later. Such was...
Published on 4 Oct 2009 by G. J. Oxley

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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible behaviour - does Connelly need the money?
I've been a fan of Michael Connelly's police procedurals and his hero Harry Bosch for a long, long time, but I found myself deeply disappointed with Nine Dragons. The book starts on familiar ground with a killing in South LA. When the investigation reveals Triad involvement, and Bosch gets a message that his daughter is kidnapped, we are asked to accept our hero...
Published on 15 Jan 2010 by John Walker


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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible behaviour - does Connelly need the money?, 15 Jan 2010
By 
John Walker (Portland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
I've been a fan of Michael Connelly's police procedurals and his hero Harry Bosch for a long, long time, but I found myself deeply disappointed with Nine Dragons. The book starts on familiar ground with a killing in South LA. When the investigation reveals Triad involvement, and Bosch gets a message that his daughter is kidnapped, we are asked to accept our hero transforming from a careful, experienced investigator into a rampant madman, and the plot becomes a breakneck, episodic quest, as if Connelly was trying to outdo Dan Brown at his worst. Travelling half-way around the world, Bosch, tripping over clues and bodies, is able to track down the kidnappers in a way and a time-frame that defies belief. Having created a body count that approaches double figures whilst achieving his objective in under twenty four hours, we are asked to believe that an experienced police officer would choose to leave Hong Kong clandestinely, destroying evidence without any regard to the investigation that must inevitably follow. And to believe that all this mayhem has happened so fast that he is allowed to board (and leave) his return plane without question.

When the HK police arrive a few days later in LA demanding answers, Connelly tries to convince his readers that a few lawyerly words from Micky Haller and the threat of a negative newspaper article will be enough to send them packing. Sorry, I really do not buy that. Nor do I buy a character that can be motivated on the one hand to commit such deeds to save a thirteen year old daughter, then forget that he has to pick her up from a psychological examination less than a week later. I'm equally unconvinced by a hero who is old enough to recollect his Vietnam service, yet is able to work non-stop for 36 hours (or more), then take a 15 hr flight from LA to HK without sleeping, conduct 18 hours(or whatever) of mayhem in HK and only notice that he's hungry and possibly might look a little dishevelled when he gets to HK airport for his return flight.

I'm still trying to figure out how the hitherto slick, taut, Connelly machine allowed a sloppy, unbelievable story and a main character with such massively inconsistent behaviour to appear in print. I can only conclude that Connelly is desperate to create a script for an action movie.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Connelly Delivers a Very Good Harry Bosch Novel, 4 Oct 2009
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
I've been counting down the days until the appearance of this latest instalment in the Harry Bosch series from one of the biggest guns in the genre, Michael Connelly. I was halfway through `City of Lies' by R J Ellory when Connelly came-a-calling and he's one of the few writers for whom I'd have no question in laying down another author's work to finish later. Such was the case here; few crime writers are as dependable as Michael Connelly at providing a top-class read; he very rarely disappoints.

In `Nine Dragons', LAPD detective Harry Bosch and his partner Ignacio Ferras cover for another unit by investigating the shooting of an elderly Chinese store owner in a predominantly black neighbourhood. Bosch however reads the clues and susses out that there's a triad angle (sorry!) to the killing. Once again Ferras is a mostly ineffectual presence and Bosch acquires a new de facto partner for the case - David Chu from the force's Asian Gang Unit.

After arresting a triad extortionist there appear to be leaks in the investigation and Bosch is advised by unknown persons to back off from the case. Then he's knocked sideways when a video is sent to his cell phone; his daughter Madeline has been abducted in Hong Kong where she lives with her mother, and Bosch's ex-wife, Eleanor Wish. The biggest section of the book involves Bosch flying to Hong Kong (specifically Kowloon) to get her back. Here he steps into a strange world of bizarre customs where a sinister omnipotent force (the triads) holds sway.

This section has obvious parallels with the recent thriller movie `Taken' starring Liam Neeson. I don't wish to underline and belabour the similarities, but those who've seen the movie will take my point.

There are less internal politics in 'Nine Dragons': Bosch both gets on well (or at least as well as Harry ever gets on with ANYONE!) and respects his immediate boss Lieutenant Gandle, and the feeling is mutual. He's finally appreciated - long gone are the days where Bosch was a loose cannon within LAPD, railing against the superiors whom he held in utter contempt.

Harry Bosch is a magnetic presence within the pages of a novel; he has very view quirks, other than his obsessive love of jazz and while he has a past-life killing tunnel rats in Vietnam, Connelly never overplays this. Although he's psychologically damaged, he's a straight-shooting, dependable, no-nonsense character who always likes to keep an investigation moving, while his acute mind often keeps him a step ahead of everyone else. He does get things wrong at times - he is human after all - but he usually comes good in the end. He doesn't do humour, and there's not much place for sentimentality in his life. Here he is accused of racism at one point, but he quickly slaps this down and admonishes his accuser.

`Nine Dragons', delivers a good double whammy twist ending and there's also a nice appearance by an old friend that all adds to the enjoyment. However, it follows hot on the heels of his last novel `The Scarecrow' and occasionally shows some signs of hasty writing; there are a few passages where there are repetitions of common words in close proximity when there are perfectly adequate synonyms available. The plot is also a little underdeveloped in places.

Connelly's prose is as always spare and functional; above all else he's a master story-teller, rather than a writing stylist. Yet he is capable of being poetic at times, and the juxtaposition of these passages next to the pragmatic prose makes them hit home harder.

'Nine Dragons' is a very good read, but for me it doesn't resonate with the same power as, say `The Last Coyote' or `Lost Light' or ........... (insert your own favourite Bosch novel here). I've knocked my rating down a star, because Connelly has set the bar so high, but I imagine `Nine Dragons' will satisfy most fans of the writer, and do a lot more than that for others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dynamic Tale Set in Two Dynamic Cities, 14 Dec 2009
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Audio CD)
"Nine Dragons [Audio Book] (Audio CD)" features Michael Brandon reading "Nine Dragons." The novel is, I believe, the 14th in Michael Connelly's best-selling Harry Bosch series of mystery novels; that is, if you don't count in The Brass Verdict, a recent bestselling Mickey Haller-Harry Bosch novel. 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. His recent standalones,The Scarecrow "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 item at hand opens as John Li, owner of Fortune Liquors, a small shop in a tough South LA neighborhood, is found murdered in an apparent burglary gone wrong. LA Police Detective Bosch has known shop and owner since the famous LA riots; since then, he's carried one of its matchbooks, whose motto "Happy is the man who finds refuge in himself," has guided him through some tough times. He is personally shaken by the crime, and promises the family of the murdered man that he will find the victim's killer. Soon, he brings in a Chinese-speaking detective from the force's Asian Gang Unit; signs begin to point to one of the Hong Kong based triads: historic, lethal crime rings that have followed their countrymen to new lives in the States, as the mafia followed its Italian countrymen. The Hong Kong connection proves unfortunate, as the person in the world most important to Bosch, who resides in HK, suddenly disappears. And Bosch is immediately on the red eye over there; he intends to begin his search in Kowloon, whose name translates to "Nine Dragons;" it's a nearby, largely Chinese suburb of HK's.

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 are dynamic; 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 dynamic city, and it's so precise that a stranger could find his way around LA with a few of his books as guides. And as for that magical, dynamic port city, Hong Kong; when I finished this book, I thought I, who'd never been there, might find my way around.

Mind you, I did have a couple of problems with "Nine Dragons." Bosch seems to have become some sort of super detective here, whose instincts lead him unerringly to the solution of crimes; in that respect, it's not as much fun as say, Trunk Music, a tour de force in which Connelly offers us three solutions to the same crime, and we believe each, in its turn. Bosch seems also to have turned a good bit more lethal than he's ever been before: there's a high body count here, a lot of beat-em-up, shoot-em-up ultra-violence that I'm not accustomed to in Connelly's work, which I don't think a "noir" necessarily requires. In fact, substitute another magical port city, Paris, for Hong Kong, and there's a strong resemblance, in more ways than one, to Liam Neeson's recent movie Taken [DVD] [2008] , in which the actor seems to karate chop his way through the French-speaking city's population. Never mind, I still loved "Nine Dragons;" and with that warning about ultra-violence, recommend it highly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nine Dragons - the Thirteenth Bosch, 26 Oct 2009
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
L.A. Robbery Homicide Detective Harry Bosch is assigned to a murder at Fortune Liquors, where the Chinese owner has been shot to death behind the counter in what appears to be a robbery. Assisted by the department's Asian Crime Unit, Bosch relentlessly investigates the murder and soon identifies a suspect, a member of a Hong Kong triad, but before Harry can close in, he gets the word that his young daughter Maddie, who lives in Hong Kong with her mother, has gone missing. Bosch drops everything to travel across the Pacific to find her. Could her disappearance be connected to the murder investigation? With the stakes so high and so personal, Bosch is up against the clock in a new city, where nothing is at it seems.

This is Harry Bosch's 13th outing, better than the 12th one (The Overlook) but not a classic. If you were to do a poll of favourite Connelly novels you'd get a wide variety of votes and I doubt that this one would stand out. But it's not bad - Connelly doesn't do bad. (By the way, I don't include A Darkness More than Night and The Brass Verdict as dedicated Bosch tales, even though he features in both)

It's hard to say why this isn't as great as I'm sure everyone hoped though. It might be more satisfying for anyone who hasn't read a single novel by this author before, because you can do a lot worse than this in the crime fiction marketplace this year, but if like me you have read every single one of his 21 novels, you'll probably wonder when or even if we will get a brilliant Bosch episode again. When 9 Dragons is compared to some of the more memorable tales, such as The Concrete Blonde, The Last Coyote, Lost Light or Echo Park, it does seem to lack that special something that makes it memorable for years to come - this despite the fact that some life-changing events take place in the new novel that will shape Bosch's career in novels yet to come. At times, however, I even wondered if Connelly was actually writing this, because there were some small but noticeable changes in style that seemed to conflict with his style of old. This is not a new criticism, because The Overlook was a big disappointment, and although this one is markedly better, it definitely lacks that sense of specialness.

It could be because there's only one story here, it's not multi-layered at all, and more specifically it doesn't get into the mind and soul of Harry Bosch in the way that so many of the early books did. It's like an up-market Lee Child story in a way, in that it's all about what's happening at any given moment without really delving into the emotional roots of everyone involved - not least Madeline, Bosch's estranged 13-year-old daughter, who is very much at the centre of this story. Of course, she has disappeared and to sustain the level of suspense and mystery the reader doesn't know what has happened to her, so the reader sees it entirely from Bosch's point of view (he appears on every page, in almost every paragraph). Consequently the reader has little opportunity to empathise with the girl, only with Bosch's anguish - and there's a discernable detachment to the father-daughter link because they have not lived together and in this case she has been living in Hong Kong with her mother - Bosch's ex-wife Eleanor Wish - for six years. I'm not convinced that this kind of emotional torture is what Bosch is best at, from a reader entertainment perspective. He's been through all manner of trials and tribulations down the years and several of them hit harder than this particular one. For me, anyway.

Having seen the film TAKEN earlier in the year, I was prepared for a similar kind of story, of a man travelling across the world to find and rescue his daughter from evil entrapment. Thankfully there was a lot less in the way of fisticuffs as there was in Liam Neesom's silly but entertaining escapade, which is probably a smart move on Connelly's part because let's not forget that Harry Bosch is around 60 years of age these days. It's best not to dwell too long on the likelihood of a near-pensioner taking on the ruthless triads single-handed, but once again, the story doesn't dwell too long on that either. It's more about the journey than the destination, the pursuit rather than the confrontation.

As it happens, this is a story that contains a substantial amount of reader deception and the conclusion, while far from explosive, is nevertheless an unexpected one, one which makes the reader re-appraise the whole tale in a new and different way. It's always nice to be unexpectedly deceived in a crime fiction novel, to realise that nothing was what it seemed, but the reality, the truth and the facts when they were revealed at the very end did feel something of an anti-climax. It's a well-paced and occasionally thrilling piece of tension and sleight-of-hand, absolutely worth buying even if Connelly is only halfway down your list of favourite writers, but the important thing to know is that there's a treasure chest of a Connelly back-catalogue and if this novel turns out to be your entry into that portfolio, you won't live to regret it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bosch in unfamiliar territory, 26 Oct 2009
By 
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
I'm a little unsure about how to rate this latest Harry Bosch story. On one hand you have lots of classic Harry Bosch moments, which should keep long time fans happy, and there's the change of environment which keep things interesting and fresh. However, there's also the worrying aspects of Connolly's recent books in evidence here, the plot which seems a little predictable at times, the recycling of previous books and the formulaic writing style.

Taking Harry off home turf and into Hong Kong provides the opportunity for some new challenges. He's also on emotionally unfamiliar ground. In previous novels his relationship with his daughter has been incidental, and it's now centre stage, driving the plot and shifting what at first appears to be a routine crime into another gear, and Harry's character into another dimension. Without wishing to give away the the story it's difficult to say too much, but it's here where plot and character are not always as solid as you might wish, and elements of each strain credibility at times - at least for this reader.

If I appear over critical it's because Connolly has set his standards so high. New readers should find this a satisfying tale, among the best that Crime fiction has to offer, and I would bet a fair number of those new readers will explore the earlier books, to find out more about Harry. However long term Bosch addicts, who view this as part of series may find that doubts intrude. For that reason it's 4 stars.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but not that excellent, 13 Oct 2009
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
I'm a big fan of this author, especially so where it concerns Harry Bosch. Connelly usually has his hero suffering in some way in each novel and this one is no exception - thankfully, he usually manages to live to fight another day.

This is definitely not the best in the series. Other reviewers have detailed the small yet significant shortfalls in the storytelling.

For me, however, I wouldn't have missed this untypical read for the world. It would be churlish to put a spoiler in so I'm happy to recommend you read this book - right to the end. If you have a daughter of your own, perchance and you like Harry Bosch, you'll suffer greatly in parts whilst enjoying the the rest of the ride. Where to next?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing and a real missed opportunity, 27 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Paperback)
Nine Dragons is not a classic Harry Bosch book. That's not to say that it's bad, but I was left feeling disappointed with the outcomes when it finished. It could have been so much more, but failed to live up to the high benchmark set by Connelly's other books.

In summary, I'd describe it as Harry Bosch does 24.

The main chunk of this book, in Hong Kong, is one very long day for Harry. The location should have been perfect for his kind of modern-day-marlowe story (I'm thinking of similarities to Bladerunner here), but it was barely touched upon. Harry is driven to each location where he always finds a clue to move him on. Considering the high stakes, the pressure on Bosch isn't really built upon enough; he just starts shooting and punching people.
The secondary, LA based, storyline that starts and ends the book feels half hearted, and certainly not the classic detective story we're used to.

It is a good read. But it is also a very quick read. I got to the end thinking 'is that it'? Not as weak as the not-really-a-novel Overlook, but not far off.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Harry does a Liam Neeson, 20 Nov 2009
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Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Hardcover)
Harry Bosch gets involved in a liquor store shooting where the chinese owner is killed and his search leads him to a bagman for a triad, one of China's many gangs. Then he receives word that his daughter has been kidnapped and he charges off to Hong Kong to set her free.

First of all, the book is really two stories. The police procedural, which takes up the first 170 pages and the final 70 pages, and a Taken-like thriller in the middle 120 pages. The first 170 pages are dreary and take a long while to set up the story with nothing much happening. Connelly finds 5th gear though in Part 2 when Harry lands in Hong Kong and things start moving. I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say Harry gets his daughter back, and this was the best part of the book. Not as bloody or fun as the Liam Neeson film Taken but similar and enjoyable nonetheless.

What detracted from the book for me were the revelations in the final 70 pages of the book. I won't mention them here but it's here we find the shooting and the kidnapping are separate making for two different unconnected storylines. Then the red herrings and coincidences really mount up leading to an ending that is just so utterly laughable it trivialised the entire book and the thriller style story. Essentially Connelly seems to have lost the plot entirely with this book and ended up writing a complete mess that barely makes sense and barely comes together in the end.

That said it was enjoyable for the most part and was a quick read (2 days) but Connelly's style seems a bit simplistic while the clever plot devices he used in previous good books like "Lincoln Lawyer" and "Echo Park" seemed overplayed and I can totally understand readers' reactions to "Nine Dragons" as utilising one too many tricks. You get the feeling it was a rush job from start to finish and seeing as this is his third book in a year I'd say that's accurate. The least engaging of the three this year anyway, I'd say for completists only. Most people reading this will be put off from reading a usually brilliant writer so I'd suggest a better Harry Bosch book like "Echo Park".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Feedback to 9 Dragons - Micheal Connelly, 17 Nov 2009
By 
Karen Bond - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nine Dragons (Audio CD)
This was the first Audio-book that I read. I really liked listening to it, on the way to and from work (1 hour each way - it was a great way to pass the time). I have read many M Connelly books and enjoyed them. But this Harry Bosch book annoyed me, or rather HB's actions in the book. I don't know if it was the story or the audio version, but his "egoistical" actions seemed so much more pronounced. I didn't really like Michael Brandon's accent (but thats just my opinion) and I wouldn't buy any other books narrated by him (but I have already ordered more audio books to listen to).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful!, 9 Jun 2011
This review is from: Nine Dragons (Paperback)
This is the ONLY Michael Connelly book that i have not enjoyed. I was looking forward to reading it as I love the Harry Bosch books but this was disappointing. It started off great but then just went downhill and I really struggled to finish it. Sorry Michael but this one was an epic fail.
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Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (Hardcover - 1 Oct 2009)
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