The Rodney King riots, war crimes, and a small-town power elite

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A review of The Black Box, by Michael Connelly

@@@@ (4 out of 5)

Harry Bosch never dies — but he gets older as Michael Connelly’s superb series of Los Angeles police procedurals continues growing longer. In The Black Box, the 18th of the Harry Bosch novels and the 33rd of Connelly’s books, Bosch’s mind is undimmed but his body is showing signs of age as he digs deeply into a 20-year-old mystery that haunted him as a cop on the beat.

Now a seasoned detective in the LAPD’s Open Unsolved Unit, Harry jumps at the chance to take a crack at the unsolved murder of Anneke Jesperson, a Danish war correspondent who mysteriously died of a gunshot during the Rodney King riots in South Central L.A. Harry and his partner had been called to the scene of her murder 20 years earlier but because there were so many victims they were forced to move on to yet another murder scene as soon as they’d called the coroner. However, once Harry has begun to dig his teeth into the scant evidence available, his boss in the Open Unsolved Unit begins an intense effort to force him off the case. As in so many of Harry’s cases, police politics has intervened, and he finds himself forced to battle the LAPD all the while he pursues the growing signs of a conspiracy in Jesperson’s murder and the involvement of war crimes in the case.

In most of the Harry Bosch stories, events unfold exclusively within Los Angeles. However, the Jesperson case takes Harry far afield into California’s Central Valley, where he is forced to confront the grim presence of a small town’s power elite. There, the story takes a turn reminiscent of the late Ross McDonald’s 18 Lew Archer novels, which I devoured when much younger.

As always, Harry’s dogged persistence wins the day, and Connelly’s spare but smoothly flowing writing is fully satisfying. In previous posts, I’ve reviewed two of Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, The Reversal here and The Drop here

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Filed under Detective Stories, Mysteries & Thrillers

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