Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery and character development
Cons: Pacing uneven overall
The Bottom Line:
His mother’s murder
Gives us chance to see Bosch grow
Delving Further into Bosch’s Past
Book 3 in the Harry Bosch series delved into a case he’d solved before the series started. It was an interesting book that really worked on multiple levels while showing us a bit of Bosch’s past. The Last Coyote delves even further into his past by reopening a case from 30 years before that had impacted him. While still entertaining, it wasn’t quite as good as that previous book in the series.
This book is set in the spring of 1994, just after the Northridge earthquake that hit the greater Los Angeles area. Harry’s house is one of the many casualties of the quake, but he is refusing to acknowledge that. He’s still living in it and trying to fix it up so it won’t be torn down even though it has been condemned. He has plenty of time to do that since he’s been suspended from his job as a LAPD homicide detective after attacking Lieutenant Pounds, his immediate supervisor.
But Bosch decides to use the time to open the case that has haunted him his entire life – the murder of his mother when he was still a boy. His mother had been a prostitute, and no progress was ever made in the case. Bosch gets the old records and begins to read over what happened. But with a case that is 30 years old, are those involved still alive? Will Bosch be able to figure out what happened?
In some ways, this book is a character study of Bosch. After all, he is working on an old case that impacts him greatly. We are also treated to the sessions he is having with the department psychologist to determine if he is fit to return to work or not. Ironically, I got frustrated with him several times over the course of the book. Since he is suspended, he has to sneak around in his investigation, but at times he crosses the line and almost becomes a bully to find out what he needs. The therapy sessions aren’t as interesting as they could be and slow things down as well. However, we also truly feel for Harry as the book progresses, and we get a different picture of him by the time the book is over, so ultimately this character study does work.
Once Bosch gets fully on the trail of the mystery, however, the book picks up. I figured a few parts of it out early, but there were still some twists that surprised me along the way, yet everything made sense at the end. We also met some great characters along the way.
While I live in the Los Angeles area now, I moved here a year and a half after the earthquake that forms the background of this book. I enjoyed getting to see just what it did to the area, but in fiction. It certainly would have been a mess to live through, and that is captured here even though we are several months out from the actual quake when the book opens.
I’m continue this series on audio. Dick Hill does a mostly good job with the narration. He’s tone down some of the invented character ticks that annoyed me in the previous books, but he still gets over dramatic when the characters get emotional. I’m hoping that gets toned down even more as the series moves along.
While The Last Coyote is a step down from the previous book in the series, it is still an entertaining story. It certainly won’t be the last book I read in this series since I’m looking forward to see what happens to Harry next.
And if you want to catch more of Bosch's cases, here are the Harry Bosch mysteries in order.
This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.