on 11 December 2012
... so it isn't some great wonder that this also happens to our hero Harry Bosch.
In the last book (The Drop (A Harry Bosch Novel), instead of choosing retirement Harry Bosch returned to the LAPD with a 5 year contract under the Deferred Retirement Option Plan - "The DROP". He now works with the Open Unsolved Unit trying to bundle up Cold Cases.
And there it comes along ... May 1992 - The Snow White case.
So called because most of the other victims after May 1992, and after four LAPD officers were acquitted for the savage beating of Rodney King, were of colour. What was a very young and very white Danish reporter doing in the middle of the looting and beating that took place for weeks in certain quarters of Los Angeles.
Harry and his colleagues - working under wartime conditions and the supervision of ex-Gulf-War troopers - can only do that much on the crime scene.
Not enough to solve this apparently so futile murder. But there WAS someone to gain of the death of the free-lance reporter...
And now it has come his way - the Snow White. And Harry, the old bloodhound as always, begins to sniff in all possible places to find his The Black Box. He calls it that way because he knows: In every case there is a Black Box, like those who are nearly indestructible and give away - when found - their knowledge about airplane or ship disasters. He only needs to find his special Black Box to resolve the case.
And he will find it. And will try to hunt the culprit(s) down.
But he himself is a hunted, too.
He has lacked of respect for the (In)competence of his superiors at LAPD - especially his current Lieutenant O'Toole more or less friendly nicked "O'Fool" -who refers Bosch to Internal Affairs on what seems to be a petty cause. But it could become very important because it can affect the way Harry may run or not the investigation. And he could lose his job very easily if the complaint remains standing.
But in the very end also the Internal Affairs will be of very, but very very important use for our hero, who has centered a wasp's nest with his investigation.
And - as I said above - we are all gettin' older every day - and so's our Harry.
So also heroes need a helping hand, sometimes...
This book is a perfect read not only for friends and lovers of Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch, but for all those who like their Police Procedures with the very personal touch only an author of this bravura nowadays dares to use on his protagonists.
And that is an experience to value highly - in this times of easy e-books and wishy-washy investigations!
on 16 January 2013
The Black Box is a nice return to form for Michael Connelly and although not as edgy or thrilling as earlier novels, its not far away.
Harry Bosch tries to solve the 20 year old murder of a Scandinavian Photo journalist who was killed during the LA riots. As Harry was the investigator on the case, he has never been able to let go of the fact that the Killer got away with it.
Although short on action (until the finale), the pacing of the mystery is done well and the facts that unfold from an obvious path of enquiry into a much bigger conspiracy are beautifully woven as only Michael Connelly can.
Some repetition lets the novel down slightly. The Internal affairs beef, the "can I trust my partner" exercise and Harry's inevitable clash with his superiors are now well trodden ground.
I also found the appearance of a certain character at the conclusion to be convenient and not really convincing. The violence at the end was slightly out of place with the rest of the investigation, but gripping none the less.
Certainly above average, but becoming a little familiar.
I will continue to eagerly anticipate Michael Connellys rich narrative works as Harry "walks down those mean streets" once more.
Detective Harry Bosch gets involved in another cold case, that of the unsolved murder of a female Danish journalist twenty years earlier, at the time of the Los Angeles riots. While he painstakingly gathers evidence and develops hunches, he is once again faced with an internal affairs examination. What very few sub-plots there are involve his 16-year-old daughter Madeleine and his slow-burn romance with Hannah Stone.
I have read every single novel by Michael Connelly, and while this is professionally and smoothly delivered, sadly there's not that much substance to it. For several years Connelly depended almost exclusively on Bosch to pay the bills, and in the early days he consistently produced some very satisfying stories. The Black Box is, I think, the first Bosch outing I've not been able to give either 4 or 5 stars, so this is a little sad for me. Every year I look forward to the latest Connelly effort (whether it's Bosch, Haller or a standalone) but this was a 'quality disappointment'. The writing is good from the first page, but it takes a long time before it really gets going - beyond 300 of the 400-odd pages, anyway.
There's nothing new about Bosch investigating an Open Unsolved case, but there were two things missing this time around. First, it was curiously difficult to care (in the same way that Bosch does) for a successful pursuit of justice. Possibly one of the reasons for this is that the suspects are not actually introduced in person - as part of the narrative - until late on, so for a large part of the tale they are no more than names. Difficult to engage with or have any feeling about. The second thing that was missing compared to earlier Bosch escapades was a sense of tension or danger - and when it eventually did turn up, not only was it (again) very late in the story but it was over almost as soon as it started.
Bosch's love-life is getting more and more insignificant these days, and while he may be rather unconcerned about that, it used to make for better reading when he was. Past relationships with the likes of Rachel Smalling and Eleanor Wish had real impact, but his latest companion Hannah Stone doesn't offer very much and at times it almost feels as if he's having dinner with his sister rather than someone he might have real passion for. In some ways his daughter has taken over his private life, but once again, compared to past episodes, not a lot happens in that department. There's another Internal Affairs probe (although it has a new title these days) but it always feels half-hearted and bolted on for no worthwhile reason.
Anyone completely new to Connelly or his pride and joy Bosch will probably wonder what all the fuss is about, why Connelly is one of the most successful crime fiction writers in the world. This won't get many newcomers putting his next novel on their wish-list or rifling through the Bosch back-catalogue. As for established Connelly fans, I think they'd have to be crazy to think that The Black Box is as good as his older stuff. Most of the basics are still there, it's just so diluted compared to Bosch at his best. Also, after a massive 'middle bit', the ending is much too fast and feels rushed. The story could have been improved with a much better thought-out ending, and I would have given it another 100 pages - but they weren't there.
For some reason I kept thinking of one of my favourite Bosch tales Lost Light, which didn't have the most dynamic of storylines but was in my opinion possibly the most memorable of them all because it really got into the mind and heart of Harry Bosch in ways that the author has rarely managed to equal since. The Black Box is quite good and I did enjoy it - just - but it doesn't come up to this author's previous high standards.
on 30 August 2013
Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly's fictional hero, is celebrating 20 years in the crime-solving business, and The Black Box was promoted well in advance as a novel that would celebrate the life and work of this unconventional character.
The story takes the reader back and forth in time as Harry, who now works in the open-unsolved unit of the LAPD, decides to investigate a cold case, the murder of a young white woman during the Rodney King Riots of 1992. The woman, who was given the nickname Snow White by the press, was shot and killed, almost execution-style, in a somewhat quiet and deserted area of the city. At the time of the murder no witnesses came forth and apart from a bullet, nothing else was found at the scene.
Normally nobody would pay too much attention to the incident, since at the time chaos and mayhem prevailed in the city, but when somebody opened fire against Harry and his partner Jerry Edgar, while they were inspecting the scene, things changed; but yet things remained the same, since there was not enough evidence to carry on with the investigation.
Now, 20 years later, Harry is still haunted by the case and he's determined more than ever to discover the truth. However, the higher-ups in the chain of command are not so pleased with his decision for political reasons; the victim was white. So they try to stop him. And they fail. When it comes to the politicians, in his precinct, or elsewhere, he couldn't care less. What he cares about is the victims, and his personal need to give the relatives, whoever they may be, some kind of closure. So he battles on, though most of the time he's all alone, and little by little he starts to unravel the threads of the mystery.
At the same time he tries to spend as much time as he possibly can with his daughter Maddie, who also wants to be a cop and his girlfriend Hannah Stone, a therapist who has a son in jail, but of course that's not quite easy, since his job is his obsession, it's what he lives for, and it's what more often than not puts him into trouble. Thus it comes as no surprise that he's yet again investigated by the Internal Affairs.
Harry Bosch is maybe older now and a little bit wiser, but he hasn't changed. He's as stubborn, restless and uncompromising as ever. He may have mellowed somehow because of Maddie and Hannah, but that's about it. As they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
The Black Box is not one of the best Bosch novels. The plot is good and the story runs smoothly, but not always, since every now and then it seems to lose its pace. I think that if it was a little bit shorter it would be much better. It is an enjoyable read though.
on 11 December 2013
i love Michael Connolly books, however this is the worst book he has produced. Given that Connolly himself says that the LA riots and his background as a journalist make this a special book to him, its a shock that this is so bad. I had high hopes given the potential the background to the story hints at at the start but it soon went off to the familiar fight against the department.
Its not in the Lost Symbol league of dross but then what is!
Harry has become a cruel stereotype, the sort of cop that a Touch of Cloth uses so well. Hes a maverick that bends the rules and goes against his boss, hes in trouble and goes it alone, hes etc etc etc.
Either retire him or give him his mojo back.
on 5 December 2013
This is my first review despite being a Connelly fan from his very early books.
I was glad to see Bosch return in a meaningful way as I had felt he'd been eclipsed by the wonderfully dashing and charming Mr. Haller in the last few books. I did find the plot slightly repetitive and predictable. Bosch having a partner who he was a little frustrated by because of his lack of commitment compared to Bosch; the number-crunching superiors he has to deal with who are more about the politics than the mission; the last minute confessions from murderers who think they have nothing to lose; Bosch making a few bungling decisions as a parent.... it's getting repetitive. His relationship with Hannah seems void of passion or commitment and I hope he loses her soon.
The ending was kind of predictable. I wanted something a little more explosive or surprising. It just seemed like a case bring ticked off and completed rather than something that had me at the edge of my seat. Also, the plot was way to slow and uneventful in the first half of the book. I found myself skipping paragraphs to get to an interesting bit.
Having said all that, I'm only so critical because I have such high expectations of Mr. Connelly and because he is without doubt, my favourite novelist. I think it's because I'm so invested in Bosch that I feel I want more from him and expect nothing short of genius (yes, I need to get a life- I know) when it comes to weaving a tale of crime and suspense.
on 22 July 2013
I always enjoy a Harry Bosch novel, but somehow the plot and characters felt a little tired. Maybe it is time Harry called it a day and spent more time with his daughter. It wasn't hard to guess the outcome (unlike in earlier books in this series) and the whole story felt tame after reading the latest John Sandford book.
on 17 April 2016
After 20 years, Michael Connelly's 25th novel is as much a reflection on the change Harry Bosch has undergone as it is the investigation of a crime. By now we unquestioningly accept that a case from 20 years ago would be playing on Bosch's mind - he's just that kind of man - and his steady, relentless, intuitive hunt for justice was only ever delayed and never abandoned. His determination to salvage something from the morass is by now a near-physical presence in the books, and Connelly charts the obsession that drive Bosch not-perfectly.
Elsewhere we ring the changes: a lot of time is spent in non-plot-relevant time with Madeline, Bosch's teenage daughter, but it's wonderful to see this enrich the character without detracting from the plot. It won't be to everyone's taste, these sections are all about the time he is making and so drag the pace out of the murder investigation, but as a reflection on how much Bosch has altered over the books and years it gives him a palpable grounding. His fear for her daughter stalks him like a golem throughout, but again simply elevates the character rather than crushing him under too many accumulated sorrows.
Undeterred by not really remembering much of previous book The Drop, I was still delighted to find much to enjoy here. Serendipity may lay its finger upon the denouement, but that can be forgiven - when you have a protagonist this finely built over two decades, and for whom you fear in his quest to find whatever theriac he needs to salve his own personal demons, all Connelly needs to do is give him the scope to explore those themes of darkness without and within. Finally, after three disappointing books, it's achieved here at a time when it couldn't be more meaningful or important. Welcome back, Harry; stick around
on 30 July 2015
The Black Box is the 25th novel by American crime author Michael Connelly, and the sixteenth novel featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch. Believe it or not, I picked it up in my local library sale for only US$0.20! I have always enjoyed the Michael Connolly novels that I have read. Michael Connelly was born on 21 July, 1956 in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. He decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. Later, he worked in Los Angeles, California, and after three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. He has since won numerous other awards for his novels and some reviewed on this site include: The Closers, and The Narrows,
So on a recent vacation to Colorado, USA, I took The Black Box with me. The idea of the title is that the protagonist, Harry Bosch, believes that every case has a black box. This is a piece of evidence, a person, a fact that brought understanding and explained what had happened in the case, and why. This novel spans many years and links two cases that Harry worked on.
The first case dated from 1992. Police officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King, were acquitted and rioting broke out in Los Angeles. Looting and random violence where the order of the day. Most of the police officers were busy trying to regain control of the city, Harry Bosch and his partner were being driven from murder victim to murder victim in order to get as much evidence as they could before the bodies were removed because the investigations had to be postponed to a later date.
One of those bodies belonged to a young, female, Danish journalist nick-named Snow White. She was killed, execution style. Harry retrieved a bullet casing from the scene but the case was never solved.
Twenty years later, Bosch reopened the case in the hope of getting justice for the young woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. New ballistic evidence is available to him and it looks as if Bosch has a real chance of getting answers for the journalist’s family. However, the evidence piles up and Bosch discovers the shameful reasons about the journalist and why she was in L.A. at the time, his investigation takes an unexpected and terrifying turn and Bosch finds himself at odds with his superiors too. (No real surprise there!). Although most of this book deals with the old murder and the present day investigations we also get glimpses of Bosch’ private life. This is interesting and makes him more human.
I really enjoyed The Black Box and the twists and turns the story took across the years. If you enjoy crime thrillers, I highly recommend this book.
on 26 November 2014
‘The Black Box’ is yet another novel in the series about Harry Bosch: for those not familiar with him, he is a hard noised, aging, cold case detective working for the LAPD. The book opens in 1992 and the backdrop is the LA riots, after Rodney King was beaten up by police officers. During the course of the riots, Harry finds the body of a white Danish journalist who had been shot dead. Due to the riots his unit is overwhelmed with work and he only has a short time to examine the crime scene before moving on to the next incident. However, he did recover the bullet and shot off his last two Polaroid rolls of film which detailed the body’s position at the time of death. The case was then handed over to another unit and remained unsolved and was almost forgotten. Twenty years later it was one of a number of cases that was re-opened and because of Harry’s history with it he volunteered to take it on. There then follows a well-crafted entertaining page-turning book as Harry Bosch attempts to find the journalist’s killers and build a case with only the flimsiest of leads which are outlined above. But build a case he does and my admiration goes out to the author Michael Connelly for the way that he manages it. He also leads us to an original unexpected ending. I find it impossible to say more about the story-line without giving too much away. So all I’ll say about the book is if you are looking for a fast moving well-paced easy to read American crime novel that is obviously well researched, this is your book.