Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: The Black Ice by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, some twists to the plot
Cons: Plot could have been tighter.
The Bottom Line:
A cop’s suicide
Begins another good case
For detective Bosch

Designer Drugs and a Murdered Cop

I really had intended to get back to the Harry Bosch books before now.  But I slipped a different book into the Michael Connelly slot in my audio book rotation a few months back, so I’m just now getting to The Black Ice, the second book starring this popular detective.  While I still think I prefer Mickey Haller better, I did enjoy this book.

It’s Christmas night when the body of narcotics police officer Cal Moore is found in a hotel room.  Cal had been missing for several days, and no one was honestly surprised when he turned up dead.  It’s an obvious suicide, even detective Harry Bosch thinks so after his brief look at the crime scene before he is ushered out by top brass in the LAPD.  The only thing that doesn’t really make sense is the note Cal left behind, “I found out who I was.”

The next day, Bosch gets a new case that makes him question whether Moore really committed suicide or not, however.  Then he learns that Moore was secretly working on a case Bosch had asked for his help on involving a designer drug called black ice.  Suddenly, Bosch is beginning to wonder if Moore was really murdered.  Can he overcome department politics to uncover the truth?

The story started well, and we quickly began to see a wide web that tied multiple things together.  How Bosch would prove it all was the real mystery of the book.  I must admit I found that part a little long and drawn out at times, and a few of the twists seemed more like clichés, especially the police department politics.  Granted, the clichés in the cozies I read don’t bother me.  Go figure, right?  Still, there were enough twists to hold my interest, and the climax was very satisfying.

I do like Harry Bosch as a character.  I wish he weren’t such a loner, but it does mean most of the characters we spend much time with are new to this book.  They were all well developed as well, making it easy to care about the outcome of the story.

One of the reasons I didn’t rush back to the series was the reader of the audio book.  Dick Hill over dramatizes at times, and it is actually distracting from the story.  It wasn’t as bad here as in the first in the series, although a supporting character’s stutter was enough to drive me up a wall.  Fortunately, he’s only in a couple of scenes.

Since this is a police procedural, the language and description of violence is significantly more I’m used to reading.  I knew that going in, so this is worth noting only in passing.

Since I’ve already listened to all the Mickey Haller books, I knew that that character and Harry Bosch were half-brothers.  I thought that was something that Michael Connelly had come up with after he’d created the Mickey Haller character, but we actually get a scene in this book where Bosch is remembering meeting his father.  Turns out, that this wasn’t something he came up with late in the process but had set up before he wrote the first book with Mickey Haller as the main character.

The Black Ice is a good second novel.  It’s certainly made me look forward to moving on with the Harry Bosch series.

And, like me, you'll want to move on to the next in the Harry Bosch mysteries in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.


  1. I've sort of skipped around Connelly's work, and didn't get into the Bosch series until Trunk Music, which I enjoyed. In fact I've enjoyed everything of his I've read, and have no idea why I've been so haphazard about it. Now that you've drawn my attention to The Black Ice, I think that might just end up on my WTR stack. Enjoyed the review.

    1. In some ways, I've listened to them out of order as well, but only since I've listened to all the Lincoln Lawyer books, which have included Bosch at some point. Now I'm trying to catch up on Bosch. As you can see, I've got a ways to go.