Friday, July 26, 2019

Book Review: The Closers by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #11)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
Cons: Mystery does start a little slowly, but we do need that background
The Bottom Line:
Bosch back on the force
Lands a very hot cold case
Always worth reading

Can Bosch Close a Cold Case?

Timing is a funny thing sometimes.  Earlier this year, author Michael Connelly started a true crime podcast called Murder Book.  The first season (which is all that has aired so far), focused on a cold case from 1988.  As it turns out, this summer I made it to book 11 in the Harry Bosch series, The Closers.  In it, Bosch returns to the LAPD and joins the Open/Unsolved Unit that the city had just started in the early 2000’s.  And his first case?  It comes from 1988.

Bosch has been partnered up again with Kizmin “Kiz” Rider, a former partner from his days working homicide in Hollywood.  His first day back on the job the two get a welcome to the squad present in the form of a DNA hit on a cold case from 1988.  The case is of a sixteen-year-old who was abducted from her home in the Chatsworth area and killed during that summer.  No serious leads were ever uncovered, but some DNA was recovered from the gun used in the crime.  The technology wasn’t good enough to find a match at the time, but with the improvements in technology, it has been run again and a match was found.

However, the match doesn’t seem to fit.  The man is a criminal who has been in and out of prison his entire life, but it is always been for burglary and other lesser crimes, and all after the murder took place.  Is this man the killer?  If not, can Bosch find a way to get him to lead them to the killer?

Obviously, the fact that this crime took place in 1988 and the real-life case on the podcast took place in 1988 is a pure coincidence.  But what isn’t the coincidence is the name of a couple of the other cops in Bosch’s new squad who share names with the cops who worked the real case.  Michael Connelly has used them as consultants for years to make sure he gets the details of police work right, and he put them in the book as a thank you.  They are minor characters, but obviously I found that Easter Egg fun.

If you are thinking this sounds a little thin for a Bosch book, you aren’t alone.  When I first started this book and heard the setup of the crime, I knew there had to be more to the case because otherwise it would be too simple.  I was right.  I will say that I felt things started a little slowly as Bosch and Kiz reworked the early parts of the case and we met all the players.  However, the further into the book I got, the more I got pulled into the story and we absolutely needed that background to fully understand how everything played out.  The twists are all there, and the way things spin out in the end is classic Connelly.  As always, I’m also left wondering what is next for Bosch.

Speaking of whom, he never fails to entertain.  Since he is back on the police force, we are back to third person narration, but all of it the book’s narration comes from Bosch’s point of view.  He is still a complex character we can relate to even if he is smarter at figuring out these crimes than we would ever be.  I always liked Kiz, so I was glad to spend so much time with her again.  Some of the others in Bosch’s orbit weave in and out of the book; they are such rich characters that I enjoy spending time with them again.

Through this case, we really get to see how a murder affects those left behind years later.  There are conversations about closure and whether that helps a person heal or not.  There is a tragedy to the case in this book that adds power to the story.  Yes, it is fiction, but it is a reminder that, when something like this happens in real life, the effects can be long lasting.  All this is a long way of saying that I found the new characters just as complex as the series regulars.  While obviously, we won’t be seeing them again, I can’t help but wonder how their lives changed as the result of what happened here if they do at all.

Len Cariou once again brought the story to life.  I’ve enjoyed his work on the series for several books now, and I enjoyed it here again.

By the way, if you, like me, didn’t make a connection to a minor character in The Narrows, the last Bosch book, we get the answer to who that was in this book.  I was glad to have that teaser tied up here.  Trust me, if you’ve read that book before you read this one, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Again, it’s an Easter Egg that isn’t a big deal if you miss it.

I continue to be so glad that I’ve embarked on catching up on this series.  The Closers makes it easy to see why Michael Connelly has so many loyal fans.  I certainly count myself among them.

Here are the rest of the Harry Bosch novels.

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

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