The Black Box by Michael Connelly
Everyone knows Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch by now, they’re both well established at the top of the tree and coming as it does at this time of year you’re all set for that Christmas gift as The Black Box doesn’t disappoint. Of course if you are lucky enough to be new to them you’re not going to start here you will have to begin at the beginning with The Black Echo but at least you know you’re in for a treat because as Harry states repeatedly its all about momentum and you can look forward to reading 18 high quality books in a row which is sort of how I had my introduction in the early 2000’s when I began with a couple of omnibus editions. I’m going to try to minimise spoilers but there may be a few ahead so take care.
The Black Box opens in flashback mode during the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of the policemen charged with the Rodney King beating. Harry and his then partner, Jerry Edgar, are tasked with performing the preliminaries in relation to a woman’s body that has been found by the National Guard but are prevented from following through on the crime at the time as its outside their catchment area and the investigation is handed over to the riot crimes taskforce established in the aftermath.
This contravenes one of Bosch’s cardinal rules – the first 48 hours of an investigation are critical and he must take advantage of any break in the case to maintain momentum, one of his other rules being everybody counts or nobody counts. These are both called into question twenty years later when as part of the cold case unit Harry is reassigned the case but his forward momentum doesn’t necessarily please his superiors who are concerned about possible racial overtones leaving him in the familiar position of conflict with the chain of command and an impending internal affairs investigation which could jeopardise his position with the force.
The title refers to the single piece of evidence that will prove critical to unlocking the entire case with the initial impetus coming from a ballistics match to an incarcerated gang member and from there Connelly crafts another gripping page turner which sees Bosch putting together a case piece by piece from seemingly nothing while placing himself in peril both in terms of his career and his life as he gets closer to identifying those at the centre of the conspiracy with strands of the case reaching overseas and back as far as Desert Storm. Harry’s other interests are firmly on display throughout with jazz featuring prominently as well as his daughter Maddie with even an appearance from FBI agent Rachel Walling for those familiar with her from previous books. He relies heavily on assistance from his partner, David Chu, without ever fully involving him or sharing with him what is happening in the case but that is typical of his actions throughout his career but while he is more appreciative than normal it does leave him more vulnerable than ever.
My rating is 9 out of 10.
May 1992, and after four LAPD officers were acquitted after the savage beating of Rodney King, Los Angeles is ablaze. As looting and burning take over the city, law and order are swept away in a tidal wave of violence. But under threat of their lives, homicide detectives like Harry Bosch are still stubbornly trying to do their job. With no effective police presence on the streets, murder just got a whole lot easier – and investigating them got a whole lot harder.
Escorted by national guard soldiers from murder scene to murder scene, Harry and his colleagues are only able to do the bare minimum in terms of collecting evidence. And for Harry that’s not enough.
When he finds the body of a female journalist executed in an alley, he cannot accept that he will never be able to bring her killer to justice, and her tragedy starts to eat into his soul. But then, twenty years later, Harry finds himself working in the Open Unsolved Unit, and suddenly the past comes back to haunt him once again, in a way he could never have imagined.