My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time for another Bosch fix for my reading addiction.
Echo Park is number 12 in the Michael Connelly's popular series, and it is up to his usual standards.
We are in 2006 and, as we learned in the last book, Bosch has given up on retirement and returned to LAPD to work cold cases in the Open/Unsolved Unit. He's once again teamed with one of his former partners, Kiz Rider.
The truth is Bosch never stopped working cold cases, even during his brief retirement. There are certain cases from his past that he was unable to clear and that haunt him still. One of those is the Marie Gesto case. The young woman disappeared in 1993. Bosch and his then partner, Jerry Edgar, worked the case but were never able to make an arrest, even though Bosch had a guy in his sights that he felt was probably the perpetrator.
No trace of Marie was ever found, but Bosch is sure she is dead. He has kept in touch with her parents all the years since their daughter disappeared and has worked the case again every year or so, reinterviewing people, including the man he believes is responsible, and reviewing the evidence. Finally, his suspect, the privileged son of a rich and powerful man, got a restraining order to keep Bosch away. But, of course, he's never given up.
One day, while he and Kiz are working another old case, Bosch is contacted by a detective in the Robbery and Homicide Division who informs him that they have a confession in the Gesto case and he requests the murder book on the case, which Bosch has on his desk. The LAPD had recently chanced to arrest a man in traffic who turned out to have garbage bags of body parts from two women's bodies in his van. He eventually confessed to killing those two as well as several others, among them Marie Gesto. Bosch is surprised and somewhat disbelieving because this man's name never came up in his investigation. Is it possible he overlooked something?
The serial killer offers to lead the police to the girl's body in return for the prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. A deal is made and the perpetrator, police, prosecutors, and the defense attorney all traipse off into the woods to find and recover the bones. And, of course, somewhere along the way, the whole thing goes pear-shaped.
But meanwhile, things just don't quite add up for Harry. He is suspicious of the man's confession and comes to believe that something is rotten in the police department and/or the DA's office. Devoted readers of this series will not be surprised by this development!
As usual, the plotting is fast-paced and realistic, with Connelly's trademark close attention to the details of the history of the LAPD and how it works and the tensions and jealousies that exist between the department and the FBI and the local prosecutors. Connelly, as always, does a good job of giving us the tribal atmosphere, the us against the world feeling, of the police department. He also helps the reader to understand why that might be the case.
Bosch, for his part, is more willing to work with the FBI. After all, he was married to a former agent, who we learn in this book is now in Hong Kong with their child. This time, he contacts Rachel Walling, another agent he has worked with in the past, and she helps him develop information that will eventually solve the case. Oh, and incidentally, he falls into bed with her a few times.
Bosch, as always, is a complex character with a lot of both light and shadow in his soul, not unlike Hieronymous Bosch, the painter whose namesake he is. He tends to not be constrained by rules and this is what constantly gets him into trouble with his superiors and the world in general. He is, in short, a loose cannon who may sometime hit the wrong target but who is single-minded in his pursuit of justice for the victims whose broken and abused bodies haunt him. It never matters to him what station that victim held in life, whether high or low in the social order. His philosophy is that they all matter or no one matters.
Now that's a philosophy I can get behind and it's one of the reasons I keep coming back to Bosch for my regular fixes.
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