A review of The Drop, by Michael Connelly
@@@@@ (5 out of 5)
You might think that after writing 25 other novels and a slew of short stories Michael Connelly’s latest book would show at least a hint of boredom. Instead, the man keeps getting better and better. The Drop, Connelly’s 17th novel about Los Angeles police detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, is one of his very best.
As you might expect in a series of such longevity, Harry is a complex character weighed down by layer upon layer of history. His history in the LAPD takes center stage in The Drop, as a challenging case brings him face to face with his old nemesis, a Deputy Chief of Police now sitting on the Los Angeles City Council and with his former partner, now an aide to the current Chief. If you’re not a Californian, you may not be aware that a seat on the L.A. City Council is a power base of the first order: members of Congress regard election to the Council as a promotion, and Councilmembers frequently run for statewide office. The upshot is that this brilliantly constructed novel revolves around the concept of “high jingo,” police jargon for the intersection of high-level politics with their work.
As the novel opens, Harry is a windower, raising his precocious 15-year-old daughter by himself, and nearing retirement from the LAPD. He holds a plum assignment in the Open Unsolved Unit. During a momentary lull in activity, he is assigned an especially difficult case involving apparently botched DNA analysis and a twenty-year-old rape and murder. No sooner has he begun digging into the mystifying circumstances of the DNA specimen than his old partner calls him from the chief’s office to inform him that the Chief insists he take on a new case: the Councilman’s son has apparently committed suicide, and the Councilman has unaccountably demanded that Harry be assigned to investigate what really happened. Enter stage left: high jingo.
Because Harry lives by the credo that “Everybody counts, or nobody counts,” he stubbornly works on both cases despite the Chief’s insistence he set aside everything else to pacify the Councilman. As the two intertwined investigations unfold with Harry’s customary secretiveness, practically everyone within his orbit becomes upset with him. And therein lies the tale — a particularly suspenseful and satisfying tale.