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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Concrete Blonde (Harry Bosch)
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2003
This, the third book in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, is without a doubt my favorite so far. Having met and fell in love with Harry in Connelly's first book, The Black Echo, I am always thrilled to begin those first few pages -- it's like meeting up with an old friend you haven't seen for awhile. This old friend is a Vietnam vet still traumatized by going through enemy tunnels while on duty as a tunnel rat in "Nam". Now he's an LAPD homicide detective so he's still being traumatized on a daily basis.
This thriller finds Harry not only on the streets solving crimes but also in the courtroom defending himself in a civil suit brought by the widow of a serial killer known as "The Dollmaker". She feels that her "serial killer" husband's civil rights were denied when Harry shot him to death without cause. At the time, Harry thought the alleged perpetrator was reaching for a weapon -- it was later revealed that he was just reaching for his toupee. This "dollmaker" nickname came about because the killer had a practice of putting makeup on his victims, making them look like painted up dolls. Now, years later, this widow is painting Bosch out to be a vigilante with a dubious past of his own hiding behind an LAPD badge and shooting people without reason. Bosch feels justified in killing the Dollmaker four years ago but, when a copy cat body shows up and associated letters resembling those that the Dollmaker used to send begin to appear, even Harry has his doubts. The courtroom scenes are compelling and the new copycat investigation is more than routine.
If you're into the mystery/thriller genre and want to sink your teeth into a series with a great protagonist and even greater writing and storylines, try Connelly's series featuring Harry "Hieronymus" Bosch. To find out what really makes Harry tick and to find out where he got the ridiculous name of Hieronymus, you should read the books in order starting with the first one, The Black Echo, continuing on to The Black Ice and then rewarding your efforts with this one, my personal favorite, The Concrete Blonde.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 May 2001
Even more so than in either of the previous Harry Bosch novels, The Black Echo and the Black Ice, Los Angeles is portrayed as a seamy and dirty place to live. The Concrete Blonde focuses on a serial killer known as the Dollmaker, who is referred to as a man Bosch killed in the previous books.
The plot centres on a civil trial involving Bosch and the old Dollmaker case, and the revelation of new killings that could be attributed to the Dollmaker. It is up to Bosch to pretty much solve everything, and the pressure is really on him this time, as he trys to juggle his trial with a murder investigation in a race against time.
The first half of the book flies by without a great deal of action - but the second half starts piling on the red herrings and dead ends thick and fast. It all leads up to a satisfying and riveting conclusion. You may think you have worked it all out early on, but don't count on it!
Harry Bosch develops nicely here, he is not operating quite so much as a loose cannon, but still has his failings which make him a little more human than some detectives. This is gripping stuff, and I think it's the best Bosch novel so far, if you're reading them in sequence like me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Having read most of Michael Connelly books I know how the Harry Bosch character has developed over the years.

He remains a favourite of mine which meant that this earlier Harry Bosch novel, which I read out of chronolgical order, joined some of the dots of his character development.

What this book did for me was to understand better Harry Boasch alot better, as it brilliantly characterises him in a way, which you might not fully appreciate if you start will his later Bosch works.

All of this is less important if you read his works in the correct order so what about the plot.

The Dollmaker, who is referred to in subsequent books, has been killed by Harry Bosch in the line of Duty.

There weight of evidence implies that that Norman Church is the said Dollmaker and that Bosch, although doing the right thing, has overstepped the mark and his actions need to be fully investigated.

As you can imagine, in these highly sensitive days, unless Bosch has been seen to act following the "book" then he will need to account for his actions in court. Like Dirty Harry, Bosch asked questions after!

As Bosch's trial starts, with the defence being handled by the epyonous "Money Chandler", a copycat Dollmaker murder with all the Dollmaker's hallmarks is discovered - described as the The Concrete Blonde (no guesses as to why!!).

What ensues is an unravelling of Bosch's character which is a terrific insight.

It also takes you a a journey based, both in the Court, and beyond which is designed to unravel this mystery.

It exposes Bosch's frailities and his gung-ho attitude which somehow sit comfortably together.

I suppose my only real critisicsm is that the ending, whilst dramatic, takes a twist too far.

However it is a great read and a brilliant introduction to Harry Bosch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2007
Connelly's previous books were of the kind that is hard to put down, but this novel is even better. The author delivers a work that combines an in-depth look at the main character, with an investigation and a trial with many clever twists. At this point I am definitely a fan of the series, and something really odd will have to happen in the future to change this fact.

The novel starts with a bang, narrating the events of four years ago, in which Harry Bosch killed a man accused of being a serial killer, known as the Dollmaker. In the present time, the wife of the supposed killer is suing Bosch and the department for wrongful dead. When the detective gets a letter that resembles the ones the Dollmaker used to send and another body surfaces, matters become quite complicated. Did Harry Bosch kill the right man? Is the killer still at large or are the current events the work of a copy cat?

One of the main things that Connelly excels at in this book is in introducing some well-crafted characters, in particular the attorney for the plaintiff. This woman is so ruthless and cut-throat that there are times at which I felt like ripping the pages of the book just to get to her! Another very interesting element that the author introduced is a romantic relationship that started in the previous installment, as a casual one, and that now is taking a whole different color. This adds variety to the story and helps give the character of Bosch an additional dimension that makes him more real to the reader. This third novel in the series is a clear winner; I hope the quality stays at this high a level.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2001
Felt like a true insight to the underbelly of seedy LA. The action switches from area to area around LA and also some great court room stuff, evocative of the best of that genre. I liked Bosch and his style - reminded me of the LA version of Inspector Rebus! Enjoyed this book from start to finish and there were no disappointments for me - will get work by this author again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I feel lucky! Why? Because having discovered Michael Connelly only recently and so far reading just three of his novels, it means that there are sixteen more to go! What a treat, especially if they come close to matching this one. It's the third in the Harry Bosch series and was written in 1994 - but don't for one minute think that it's out of date, that the best stories are the newest ones. This is as good as anything I've read this year, the only book that has matched it is The Lincoln Lawyer, by the same author.

It does, however, remind me vaguely of two other novels of times past: Mark Billingham's Scaredy Cat and Mo Hayder's The Treatment. I'll say nothing more other than quote the punchline from the cover of Scaredy Cat - "Serial killers normally work alone". But The Concrete Blonde is in fact heavily built around a courtroom drama that spreads its full length, because Bosch (or more correctly the LAPD) is being sued by the widow of a man he killed four years earlier, a man he was sure was a multiple murderer known as the Dollmaker. The plaintiff has a hot-shot female lawyer on a big retainer to represent her case for the prosecution in this civil (i.e. not criminal) trial, while Bosch must depend on a less-than-impressive, overweight and sweaty youngster who is paid the same salary whether he wins or loses. As the trial progresses, the reader becomes more and more resigned to an inevitable loss for the defendant, but the conclusion is anything but predictable.

Running in parallel to the events in the courtroom, Bosch is investigating a new case that bears worryingly similar hallmarks to the works of the deceased Dollmaker. A new body is found, and as the investigation develops, not only the reader but even Bosch himself start wondering if he shot the right man four years ago. I had at least two suspects in mind and oddly enough Bosch chose these two as well, although I wondered if this was clever reader manipulation on the part of the author. In the end I was caught out, it was someone not even on my `might be' list. I have to admit that I enjoy courtroom theatrics, and even though Bosch didn't really care if he lost, Connelly still manages to make the trial gripping and sometimes moving as well, as unknown secrets about Bosch's life are cold-bloodedly made public. Characterisation is of a very high standard throughout, not least of course that of the tortured soul that is Hieronymus Bosch. Strongly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is the third of the Harry Bosch series - in the previous two, a case is mentioned when Harry shot and killed a murder suspect (a serial killer nick-named 'The Dollmaker' by the media) when he was told to freeze but reached for something under his pillow. It turned out to be a toupee, not a gun - but Bosch wasn't to know and shot him dead.

Now we get to find out how this happened, as the wife of the dead man hires a crack lawyer to sue the police department for damages, claiming also that he was an innocent man. Then, as the trial gets started, a note is handed into Bosch's police station - it is in the same handwriting, and the same bad rhyming couplets that The Dollmaker used to taunt the investigating officers when he was at large and murdering victims - how can the dead man be The Dollmaker if this new note is the genuine article?

I enjoyed this very much - Connelly has found has stride, and Bosch is very much a believable character now. There's a great courtroom drama as well as a murder mystery to get your teeth into, and although the ending looked like it was going to be predictable, there are a few twists that thankfully keep a pleasant surprise from becoming too apparent at the end.

Although the first two books aren't quite as good as this one it's still a good idea to start with them before you read this one, as it's becoming a very habit-forming little series.

Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2011
The Concrete Blonde is my favourite book of all time. From the first page to the last you are never sure whodunnit...

With more twists and turns than a rollercoaster the book takes you through a "by the seat of your pants" ride into Harry Bosch's persona...

The irony for me though, at no point did I suspect the actual killer or their motive...

Amazing stuff
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I feel lucky! Why? Because having discovered Michael Connelly only recently and so far reading just three of his novels, it means that there are sixteen more to go! What a treat, especially if they come close to matching this one. It's the third in the Harry Bosch series and was written in 1994 - but don't for one minute think that it's out of date, that the best stories are the newest ones. This is as good as anything I've read this year, the only book that has matched it is The Lincoln Lawyer, by the same author.

It does, however, remind me vaguely of two other novels of times past: Mark Billingham's Scaredy Cat and Mo Hayder's The Treatment. I'll say nothing more other than quote the punchline from the cover of Scaredy Cat - "Serial killers normally work alone". But The Concrete Blonde is in fact heavily built around a courtroom drama that spreads its full length, because Bosch (or more correctly the LAPD) is being sued by the widow of a man he killed four years earlier, a man he was sure was a multiple murderer known as the Dollmaker. The plaintiff has a hot-shot female lawyer on a big retainer to represent her case for the prosecution in this civil (i.e. not criminal) trial, while Bosch must depend on a less-than-impressive, overweight and sweaty youngster who is paid the same salary whether he wins or loses. As the trial progresses, the reader becomes more and more resigned to an inevitable loss for the defendant, but the conclusion is anything but predictable.

Running in parallel to the events in the courtroom, Bosch is investigating a new case that bears worryingly similar hallmarks to the works of the deceased Dollmaker. A new body is found, and as the investigation develops, not only the reader but even Bosch himself start wondering if he shot the right man four years ago. I had at least two suspects in mind and oddly enough Bosch chose these two as well, although I wondered if this was clever reader manipulation on the part of the author. In the end I was caught out, it was someone not even on my `might be' list. I have to admit that I enjoy courtroom theatrics, and even though Bosch didn't really care if he lost, Connelly still manages to make the trial gripping and sometimes moving as well, as unknown secrets about Bosch's life are cold-bloodedly made public. Characterisation is of a very high standard throughout, not least of course that of the tortured soul that is Hieronymus Bosch. Strongly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I feel lucky! Why? Because having discovered Michael Connelly only recently and so far reading just three of his novels, it means that there are sixteen more to go! What a treat, especially if they come close to matching this one. It's the third in the Harry Bosch series and was written in 1994 - but don't for one minute think that it's out of date, that the best stories are the newest ones. This is as good as anything I've read this year, the only book that has matched it is The Lincoln Lawyer, by the same author.

It does, however, remind me vaguely of two other novels of times past: Mark Billingham's Scaredy Cat and Mo Hayder's The Treatment. I'll say nothing more other than quote the punchline from the cover of Scaredy Cat - "Serial killers normally work alone". But The Concrete Blonde is in fact heavily built around a courtroom drama that spreads its full length, because Bosch (or more correctly the LAPD) is being sued by the widow of a man he killed four years earlier, a man he was sure was a multiple murderer known as the Dollmaker. The plaintiff has a hot-shot female lawyer on a big retainer to represent her case for the prosecution in this civil (i.e. not criminal) trial, while Bosch must depend on a less-than-impressive, overweight and sweaty youngster who is paid the same salary whether he wins or loses. As the trial progresses, the reader becomes more and more resigned to an inevitable loss for the defendant, but the conclusion is anything but predictable.

Running in parallel to the events in the courtroom, Bosch is investigating a new case that bears worryingly similar hallmarks to the works of the deceased Dollmaker. A new body is found, and as the investigation develops, not only the reader but even Bosch himself start wondering if he shot the right man four years ago. I had at least two suspects in mind and oddly enough Bosch chose these two as well, although I wondered if this was clever reader manipulation on the part of the author. In the end I was caught out, it was someone not even on my `might be' list. I have to admit that I enjoy courtroom theatrics, and even though Bosch didn't really care if he lost, Connelly still manages to make the trial gripping and sometimes moving as well, as unknown secrets about Bosch's life are cold-bloodedly made public. Characterisation is of a very high standard throughout, not least of course that of the tortured soul that is Hieronymus Bosch. Strongly recommended.
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