Angels Flight - Michael Connelly
[Because that doesn't sound like insensitive, myopic, assholeish lipservice at all, especially when it comes from your (white) boss who's using you as camera fodder.]


~~Moved from GR~~


Angels Flight (Harry Bosch #6)

by Michael Connelly


Because of its emotional and powerful confrontation of the racial tensions in LA, I found Angels Flight to be one of the more powerful stories in the series and a profoundly uncomfortable read. The narrator's repressed anger at the fallout of the LA race riots of '92 is palpable, but so his the guilt. The book demonstrates that racism isn't a binary trait; it's a continuum. And being white in America means that you are racist to some degree and fall somewhere on that continuum. In LA, where fear and resentment on both sides became even more pronounced after Rodney King, the racial divide seems even starker.


Harry Bosch, though less racist than some of the furious and bigoted police officers he associates with, has his own limitations. He starts out feeling positive that he is totally unbiased. After all, his two working partners are black. How could he be racist? And yet he immediately assumes that a black man he encounters is lying about police brutality. He is judgmental of lawyers who "play the race card," but views the issue from only one perspective. Most despicably to me, he first refuses to let his partners be used as camera fodder, then uses them himself--and yet doesn't see this as a serious betrayal. As the story continues, he is forced to confront his own biases, and in turn, forced me to confront my own. I still feel uncomfortable with what I see as racial resentment colouring the narrator's point of view. Yes, perhaps Connelly tried to add humanity through Kiz and Edgar, but overall, I felt that he characterized the African-American community as a vicious and unintelligent mob, ready to devolve into senseless violence at the least provocation.


I think a read of this book needs to be paired with a read of a book written from the perspective of a person of color. I read it at the same time as Little Scarlet, which confronts the race riots of '65, and this helped to bring into stark contrast the biases of both the narrative and the characters. Overall, I see the story as powerful and valuable because both its acknowledged and unacknowledged racism forces the reader into a confrontation of his or her unconscious prejudices.