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When I listened to the first book in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, I was surprised at the major stories in his background that effected who he was. It almost felt like jumping into the middle of a series even though I knew it wasn’t. Now, with The Concrete Blonde, the third in the series, we get to revisit some of that history.

Four years ago, Harry Bosch shot a man in the line of duty. The man was a suspected serial killer dubbed the Dollmaker, and, despite warnings to freeze, he was reaching for something under a pillow. Now, the man’s widow is suing Bosch and the LAPD in his wrongful death. The trial is getting publicity in the wake of the Rodney King trial and riots.

However, the LAPD has just been sent a note that appears to be from the Dollmaker. It teases the location of another body, and Harry quickly recognizes all the signatures of the killer. Did he shoot the wrong man? Is this a copycat or a partner? How will this affect the trial?

While this is only my third Harry Bosch book, I have already listened to all of Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller books. Those are legal thrillers, and we spend as much time on the back and forth in the courtroom as anything else. I bring that up here because we spend plenty of time in the courtroom as Harry up against a strong lawyer who wants to win money for her client. Those scenes, as always, were fascinating to me, and it’s interesting to see this early look at author Michael Connelly doing it so well.

The other part of the book is police procedural, which is what you’d expect for a police detective. During the evenings, Bosch is out working hard to figure out what is going on with this new body. That part of the book was just as fascinating to me. I thought I had the case wrapped up way before Bosch, but it turned out I was dead wrong on who the bad person was. The climax was brilliant and left me cheering.

This is the first time I felt like we saw some real character growth from Bosch. Because of his ongoing relationship with a woman he met in the last book, he’s actually coming out of his loner shell. I appreciated that, and I look forward to seeing more growth in future books. The rest of the cast was also strong. We got to see different sides of some of the regulars, which I appreciated, and the new characters held their own with this impressive cast.

I do want to make one thing perfectly clear. This is NOT remotely one of the cozies I normally read. There is a lot of language (which I know is realistic but I still felt went a little overboard) and some violence. The serial killer in question sexually abused the women before he killed them, so some of the detail they get into is quite uncomfortable. Some of the victims are prostitutes, so we get a glimpse of what that does to the women. While I do recommend the book, keep that in mind before you pick it up.

As mentioned before, I once again listened to the audio version of the book. The narrator is Dick Hill, and I must say I liked the book despite his performance. All three of the books I’ve listened to that he’s done he’s gone out of his way to be overdramatic, giving us the sighs and coughs that are included in the narration but are out of place in an audio book. Then there are the ticks he gives a couple minor character’s speech for no reason I can find that makes it hard to listen to. Finally, there is a note to Bosch that he reads in a way that made me scratch my head. Fortunately, as the book went along, he toned his overdramatic narration down. I’ve always said that a narrator can make or break a book, and, while his narration doesn’t prove that, it certainly shows how influential it can be.

With his third book, Michael Connelly is clearly finding what works best for him in his novels. The Concrete Blonde is the best of the first three Bosch novels. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next from this foundation.
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on 1 August 2012
Having read the first two Harry Bosch books I was starting to get into the series and was expecting this book to continue the good work of the first two. However I was not prepared for the series to leap forward this much in one book! Anyone familiar with the Bosch story will be aware of a case in Harry's past called the Dollmaker, a serial killer who Harry tracked down and ended up killing in the years leading up the first book. This book begins with Harry in court been sued by the Dollmaker's wife as she believes he killed the wrong man. As Harry is waiting for the case to begin he gets word from his superiors that they have a problem. The Dollmaker that Harry shot dead four years ago has left a note for him at the station and the killings are starting again.....
From there on in the book takes you on a wonderful ride that involves the on-going court case and the new investigation into the Dollmaker. I will once again state that this is a wonderful book that will have you guessing until the very end. It has been a while since I read a book at the speed I read this at, it really is a page turner and is a book that I have already recommended to other people. Any fan of the crime genre will love this book. The only comment of complaint I have with regards this excellent book is that the Kindle edition does not contain page numbers. It does not affect the standard of the book so I am giving it five stars but it is poor of amazon or whoever is in charge of this to not have page numbers on the ebook.
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on 8 October 2003
The 'Concrete Blonde' is my favourite Michael Connelly book out of the ones I've read so far. In this story we follow Harry Bosch who killed the notorious serial murderer, the 'Dollmaker', and his court case for this killing. But at the same time that Bosch is accused of killing without provacation, the Dollmaker's notes resurface, and it appears that he is still out there. This is curious, especially when Bosch is 100% convinced that he got the right man.
There are a lot of different aspects to this story, which makes it such a good read: there is the court case, the current case of the Dollmaker resurfacing, and Harry Bosch's personal life and previous history. The interaction of all these elements makes a engaging read.
I must say, though, that the final twist in the end, is not as good as one would hope. From personal experience, I've found that Connelly tries to push the limit in his endings, but sometimes fails to deliver a completely satisfactory ending. This is what stops Connelly from being elevated from 'very good' crime writer to 'fantastic, excellent' crime writer.
Nevertheless, it is a very good book, and should be read by all crime fiction fans.
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on 10 May 2014
I enjoyed this. It's classic Michael Connelly, and although it's not my favourite book by this author (I tend to prefer those starring Mickey Haller), it's one of his better ones (not that I have read them all by any means). It is pretty much what one would expect from a Michael Connelly novel: a killer at large, a bit of courtroom drama, office politics within the LAPD, and Harry Bosch the hero of the piece. It seemed a little slow-moving at times but the pace picked up a lot towards the end, with quite a few twists and turns. It was also nice to see a love interest for Bosch; even though some of the scenes with his girlfriend seemed a bit corny and unrealistic I found myself hoping that the relationship would continue.

My only slight gripe is did we need to be told so many times that Rodney Belk was overweight? I got it the first time; there was no need to keep reminding me, and the implication that his size and his incompetence were somehow linked was unfair.

If you have enjoyed other Connelly novels or anything in a similar vein: detective fiction, modern thrillers, a jaded but thoroughly committed detective who does things his own way without worrying too much about the consequences, I highly recommend `The Concrete Blonde'.
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on 16 August 2015
To start, I read a review here which was not marked "Spoilers" and so from about 1/3 of the book on, I knew whodunit. Ugh. I considered skipping to the next Bosch book, but chance intervened and so I continued.

1. I loved the book, and I'm very glad I was not put off by that reviewer's mistake.

2. I am not fond at all of courtroom scenes in books. They tend to be very stilted and pedantic, slow moving and more concerned with false drama. The later court scenes were more interesting, and I tended to skim the legalese and some of the descriptions. That worked well, I recommend it.

3. The actual story, the plot, the tracking of the several criminals, was great. Typical Connelly, mostly fast paced and very, very clever. I like the character of Bosch a lot, his integrity leavened by practicality.

4. The romance between Bosch and Sylvia was very good, very mature and realistic, and very nice to see Bosch find "a home", as he calls it, for his heart.

5. The climax and conclusion of the book are perfect, not drawn out or muddied in any way. Quite surprising ending for all of you who will read the book.

Top marks again, minus some pages of dull courtroom melodrama.
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on 21 July 2015
I loved this Harry Bosch story, my favorite detective ever. Harry shoots dead a serial killer give the name the Doll Maker by the media, the Doll Maker's wife claims damages against Bosch for killing her husband citing wrongful death. Harry knows he got the right man, but, did he?

A body appears in another killing which resembles almost in every way the killings committed by the Doll Maker, this blonde found in the concrete definitely appears to have been from the same killer, so, is this an earlier murder by the Doll Maker? a copycat? or was there an accomplice helping the Doll Maker.

The trial is underway to decide if Harry killed the Doll Maker or if it was a case of mistaken identity, this new body appears as the trial gets underway. Harry sets out to find out what is going on, and with the usual twist and turns and holding of your breath we get to the climax - not telling you though you need to read to find out, and make sure you do as its brilliant
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on 24 July 2015
First MC novel and after a slow start it got real good and worth it. Will read more of his
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on 14 November 2012
I thought I had read all of the Michael Connelly Harry Bosch stories, but somehow managed to miss this one until now! The book is well written, and I agree with other that this, the 3rd in the series, is certainly stronger than books one and two. This novel has a great story, and starts with a look back in hindsight at a story that had already taken place. The novel then takes this theme and twists and turns in usual Connelly style. I particularly liked how the reader was allowed into some of Bosch's personal life, and a different side of him comes to the fore.
I don't think this was the strongest novel in the series, but as usual with Connelly books, I was disappointed when I finished, not because I didn't like the book but because the story had finished and I wanted to read more!
A very good read!
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on 20 July 2017
Always like Michael Connelly
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Very good, the story is excellent, the plot believable and intriguing.
Harry Bosch is probably the best police thriller series I have read. Connelly goes into just the right amount of detail.
I am now working my way through the series.
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