My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The bad boy of the LAPD, Hollywood Division, is back on the job in this fifth entry in the Harry Bosch series. We last met Harry in The Last Coyote. He had endured an earthquake that made his house uninhabitable - although he continued to live in it - and he was again under suspicion of having committed grave crimes. After his innocence was proved, he was forced to take leave to recover from stress-related issues. He's now completed that leave and returned to work full time.
He's back at work and with a new and more sympathetic boss, Lieutenant Billets (known, of course, as "Bullets"), but he hasn't had any murder cases. Until now.
It begins with the body of a man, a low level Hollywood film producer, found in the trunk of a Rolls-Royce on the hills above the Hollywood Bowl. He had been shot twice in the head at close range and the murder bore all the signs of a Mafia hit - "trunk music" in the local parlance. Harry and his team of Jerry Edgar and a new detective called Kiz begin working the case and determine that the victim had spent a lot of time in Las Vegas and was a gambler which gives some validation to the idea that his murder might have been related to organized crime.
The organized crime angle is the one they pursue at first, which is a good excuse to send Harry to Las Vegas and give us a glimpse of that glitzy world. Harry follows up leads but begins to feel antsy about it all. He intuits that there is a piece missing from the puzzle, but he can't lay his hands on it.
While in Vegas, he runs into an old girlfriend, Eleanor Wise, the former FBI agent that he had been involved with a few books back. She had gone to prison for crimes related to that case, but now she's out after serving three years, and she's making her way in the world by playing poker. She and Harry are still attracted to each other and basically pick up where they left off.
But back to the case. Harry begins to see a tangle of corruption and collusion involving the police in Vegas and one of the top crime figures in the city, and it seems that his victim back in LA was somehow involved with these figures, but how? What exactly is the connection?
And what about the not so grieving widow? The records of the gated community where she lives show that she was at home on the night that her husband was killed on his way home from Las Vegas, but can those records really be trusted? Her husband was cheating on her in Las Vegas and she seems to have known about it and she appears to be the one who would most benefit from the man's death.
Or would that be the girlfriend, a very young woman who was a dancer at a strip club in Vegas and went by the name of Layla. Harry attempts to locate her but without any success.
Then everything goes pear-shaped when it turns out that there is an FBI undercover operation investigating the same people who are of interest to Harry and the two get all tangled up together. Guess who comes out on the losing end?
Back in Los Angeles, Harry finds he's now the one being investigated and he's been pulled off the case. But when did being removed from a case ever stop Harry from investigating? Solving murders is his calling. It's in his blood and once he's on the case, the only way to really remove him is with a bullet.
This case turns out to be even more complicated than it at first appeared, but we can be sure that, after clearing out all the misdirections, Harry will get his man. Or woman.
It struck me as I was reading that the character of Harry Bosch has evolved and grown. He seems more mature, more responsible in this adventure. Of course, he's never going to resolve his issues with the Internal Affairs Division - the "squints." They are always going to be looking over the shoulder of the bad boy of the LAPD, Hollywood Division.
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