Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of Michael Connelly's The Closers

The Closers by Michael Connelly
Like the prodigal son returning, he knew he was back in his place now. He was baptized again in the waters of the one true church. The church of the blue religion. And he knew that he would find his salvation in those who were long lost, that he would find it in these musty bibles where the dead lined up in columns and there were ghosts on every page.
Yep, Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch is back at the Los Angeles Police Department in Michael Connelly's 2005 book, The Closers. During his three years of retirement, Bosch found himself limping because his body was unbalanced without his holstered gun. Bosch doesn't return to the same old LAPD, however; a new chief is reforming the department after an FBI investigation found widespread corruption, violence, and civil rights violations within the LAPD ranks. He assigns Bosch to the Open-Unsolved Unit, where "the chorus of forgotten voices" of victims and their survivors sing.

Closer Goose Gossage is in baseball's Hall of Fame
Abel Pratt, who's in charge, calls his unit the most noble in the department and likens his officers to pitchers brought into a baseball game in the bottom of the ninth inning to win or lose the game––the closers. If they can't do it, nobody can. While Bosch and old partner, Kiz Rider, find new techniques and technology crucial, they'd get nowhere without the old-fashioned methods of interviewing witnesses, examining evidence, and following a good cop's instincts.

Author Connelly channels Hillary Waugh in this police procedural, in which a cold-hit match of DNA allows Bosch and Rider to re-open the 1988 murder investigation of 16-year-old Rebecca Verloren, who was taken from her Chatsworth bedroom several days before her dead body was found, off a trail on Oat Mountain, behind her family's home. Following the determined Bosch through Los Angeles reminded me of tagging along with Waugh's Homicide Lt. Frank Sessions as he goes about his day in Manhattan North. The attention to detail is remarkable; only the lint in the detectives' pockets goes unreported.

After a couple of series books that seemed phoned in, Connelly delivers a solid fifteenth that deals with the toll of violence over time. Rebecca's murder was "like a stone thrown into a lake," creating ripples that affected many lives. Her mother turns her slain daughter's room into a museum and can't bear the thought of moving; her father, a talented chef, can't tolerate staying. A plaque in her memory at Hillside Prep is worn smooth by all the touching. Rebecca's best friends can't forget her. The unsolved case cast a shadow over its original investigating officers, and it grips Rider and Bosch.

Bosch is a terrific fictional character, and this book features his picks in music, movies, and Los Angeles spots that Bosch fans have come to expect. The former Vietnam tunnel rat remains both the driven cop of the past––although some of his skills are a little rusty––and the solitary guy who hooks up with the occasional woman and longs for his young daughter, who is out of the country with her mother. As usual, Bosch runs up against a superior with a grudge and risks his badge––this time, in a cold case with "high jingo," meaning it involves departmental politics and possible corruption and cover-up. Back at the LAPD's Parker Center, he settles down at his desk across from Rider and opens the murder book with a sigh of relief. At the end of The Closers, Bosch resolves "to carry on the mission" and promises "always to speak for the dead." I'm glad he's back.

No comments:

Post a Comment