My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I last encountered Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch, he had left the LAPD and was working as a private detective. But after three years away from the force, he misses it and when he learns that certain personnel would no longer be there to torment him and that the new police chief is open to his returning, he decides to go back. The decider is that he will be able to work with his former partner Kizmir Rider in a new unit called Open-Unsolved. These are old murder cases that have grown cold but are not forgotten. Working old cases has always been Harry's strength. He is in his element here.
The first case assigned to Harry and Kiz is a seventeen-year-old murder of a teenage girl who was taken from her home at night and killed. She was at first thought to be a runaway but her body was found a few days later on a mountain behind the family home. The autopsy revealed that she had recently had an abortion, unknown to her family and friends, but no connection between that and her murder was ever found. In fact, no motive was established and no potential perpetrator identified.
The first thing for those reviewing the case to do is to read the "murder book," the book that contains all of the details of the original investigation and the evidence found. There is also one new detail to consider, one bit of information which the original investigators did not have; DNA found on the gun that was identified as the murder weapon. At the time of the murder, DNA forensics were in their infancy. With more sophisticated techniques available, the DNA on the gun has now been matched to a petty criminal who lived in the area at the time of the murder.
Attention focuses on this newly identified suspect and Harry and Kiz try to come up with a plan that might spook him and cause him to reveal what he knows.
Meanwhile, Harry learns that his return to LAPD is not universally cheered. He encounters Irvin Irving, an old nemesis, who lets him know that he has his eye on him and will not hesitate to cause him grief. But Irving, it develops, is on the outs in the department. Since the advent of the new chief and his administration, many corrupt cops have already been eased out or outright fired. It looks like Irving may soon be among them.
(Parenthetically, we've been watching the second season of the Amazon TV series Bosch which is based on Michael Connelly's books. It turns out they are based very loosely. The stories and some of the characters have been changed. One of those changed characters is Irving who Harry winds up working with in the TV series. That would have been unheard of in the books.)
This story was a very tightly constructed and believable police procedural. It is full of realistic details about how the police work. Moreover, it also included discussions of some of the changes in criminal law through the years and the impact that science has had on the ability of police to catch criminals, even the perpetrators of long cold cases. There are references to the changes that have caused certain crimes to be designated as "hate crimes" and treated differently in law. Connelly is very, very good at all of this - packing the information in without detracting from the plot or lessening the suspense that keeps the reader turning those pages.
It's good that Harry's back with LAPD. That's where he belongs. As he told Kiz at one point, after a while of being away from it, he noticed that he was walking crooked and, on reflection, he realized it was because he missed the weight of the gun on his hip. The weight that he had grown accustomed to, that had become a part of him, in more than 30 years on the force. He's back and he has the luxury of working his favorite kinds of cases, the ones that no one else could solve. He and the Open-Unsolved Unit are The Closers because they will finally solve and close those cases.
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