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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusually Resonant, Emotionally Powerful Mystery, 22 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch Series) (Paperback)
"The Last Coyote," an early novel by American mystery author Michael Connelly, is the fourth of the writer's bestselling Harry Bosch detective series that now numbers fourteen published works. That is, if you don't count inThe 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 Brass Verdict; The Scarecrow 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 novel at hand finds veteran detective Bosch suspended, after doing a bit too much acting out. His house has been condemned after an earthquake; he's having trouble with a girlfriend. So, to while away the time, he looks into a cold case, the October 28, 1961 murder of Marjorie Phillips Lowe, his mother. In this regard, "The Last Coyote," like the novel that followed it, Trunk Music, is unusually resonant, and emotionally powerful, as each centers around the most important relationship known to humans, mother and child. The novel is further fueled by the great mileage the writer gets out of the last coyote metaphor, as Bosch searches, poignantly, for the killer of his mother, an LA whore. He introduces the animal early: "He saw a coyote step out of the brush of the arroyo to the left of the roadway and take a tentative look around the intersection. There were no other cars. Only Bosch saw this. The animal was thin and ragged, worn by the struggle to sustain itself in the urban hills. The mist rising from the arroyo caught the reflection of the street lights and cast the coyote in almost a dim blue light. And it seemed to study Bosch's car for a moment, its eyes catching the reflection of the stoplight and glowing. For just a moment Bosch believed that the coyote might be looking directly at him. Then the animal turned and moved back into the blue mist."

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 drive like Mack trucks; furthermore, they are usually fresh, tight, riveting, complex. His narrative and descriptive writing is terse and witty, informed by his deep, accurate knowledge of police work, after several years on the cop shop beat. His dialog snaps. He explicates his love of jazz as he goes. And his mise en scene writing: well, it's heartfelt, written by a man in love with a city, and it's so precise that a stranger could find his way around LA with a few of his books as guides. His books clearly follow in the footsteps of earlier outstanding hardboiled Los Angeles authors Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, but add the further ingredients of a police procedural, as they chart the career of Connelly's creation, LAPD Detective Bosch, assigned to Hollywood Homicide.

If you've come to Connelly's work through his later, better-known books, it's worth doubling back to this one.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Nov 2012 21:36:40 GMT
Fiona C says:
This is a really excellent review. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Nov 2012 03:21:18 GMT
Fiona, Connelly has been a big favorite of mine for several years now, and I consider this one of his best, and most deeply-felt, they aren't all. Thanks so much for taking the time and trouble to give me a positive comment, means a lot,
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