The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

~~Moved from GR~~


The Black Ice (Harry Bosch #2)

by Michael Connelly


It may be Christmas, but Harry (yes, his name is Hieronymus) Bosch is not exactly feeling peace and goodwill towards all of mankind. With the furor surrounding the events of the previous book finally cooling off and his bullet injury healing up nicely, Harry is back to the standard frustrations of Hollywood police's murder team. Currently, he's got a body in the morgue with no leads except for a link to a new and very expensive drug on the market. When the body of a fellow cop turns up on his beat, Harry is furious when the case is taken away from him. It is almost as though the department is falling apart--again. Another fellow detective has succumbed to drink, and lucky Harry has been given his entire case load with instructions to solve at least one case before New Year's. (That way, the statistics can be twisted to argue that the LAPD is solving at least half of the murders. Go figure.) As Harry begins to dig deeper, he begins to discover that three of his current cases are deeply entangled in a web of deception, lies, and drug trafficking.

I devoured this book right after finishing its predecessor. I was incredibly curious how Bosch, after putting part of the department the grave, part in jail, and the remainder into an apoplectic fury, managed to actually keep his job. Turns out he's still there, still unpopular, and still butting heads with the department. And yet again, the book showcases all of the nasty underbelly possible in the police system: the inhuman cruelty, the lies, the tendency to view people as numbers rather than souls, and the corruption of the police. I guessed the twist at the end and thought one of the villains was a little too coldhearted and calculating to be reconcilable with his previous behavior, but I thought the mystery was quite well-done and there were some edge-of-the-seat nail-biting moments.

One snippet of the story I very much enjoyed was Bosch's discussion with another character of Raymond Chandler and his works. There are so many similarities between Philip Marlowe and Harry Bosch--both continually butting heads with authority, both loners, both tarnished knights on the mean streets, and both living in LA, for pete's sake--that this little easter egg homage and analysis was a lot of fun. One major distinction between Chandler and Connelly, which is much to Connelly's credit: he doesn't fall back on quick and convenient racial stereotypes for his characters.

I very much enjoyed the terse, telegraphic writing style, and I felt the dialogue felt more natural than in the last book. Again, Connelly's knowledge of the inner workings of the police system definitely came through and added an authoritative voice to the story. But again, I wonder at his cynicism. It seems that being part of "the system" translates to being cold and corrupt. I find this bitterness intriguing, and I wonder if it stems from anything in Connelly's career as a journalist--especially since journalists are presented positively and Bosch has repeatedly used the "moral force of the press" (hah) several times to outwit the corrupt bureaucracy of the police force. Overall, a very enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to the next.