Monday, January 2, 2017
The Drop by Michael Connelly: A review
I decided to ring out my reading year of 2016 with an old friend, Detective Harry Bosch of the LAPD. I felt a bit of trepidation in doing so, because the last two Bosch mysteries that I had read had been rather disappointing, not up to Connelly's usual standard. I needn't have worried; the writer is back on form with The Drop.
This entry finds Detective Bosch back with the open-unsolved case unit of the LAPD, still with David Chu as his partner. Their relationship is abrasive at best, and Harry continues to be pretty much of a jerk in his attitude toward the younger detective, who seems to be trying really hard to please the old pro.
Harry has already retired once from LAPD and then returned, and now he is on the cusp of mandatory retirement. He has just received the news that his request for a deferment of that retirement has been granted. He has 39 months left before he has to turn in the badge and he is desperate for cases to solve within that time frame. On one day, he gets assigned two cases.
The first is a cold case of a young woman who was raped and murdered in 1989. New DNA evidence has linked the case to a convicted rapist, recently released after serving his sentence. The problem is that the suspect is now 29 years old and at the time of the murder would have been eight years old. It seems highly unlikely that an eight-year-old raped and murdered a nineteen-year-old woman, so what is the explanation? Is the DNA evidence wrong? If so, it may make suspect all of the evidence analyzed by the police lab, with enormous consequences for ongoing and past cases.
The second case is a hot one that is assigned to Bosch and Chu by special request from on high. The body of the son of former police commissioner, now city councilman, Irvin Irving, has been found on the pavement outside an LA hotel. The man had fallen from the balcony of his seventh floor room at the hotel, but did he jump, fall accidentally, or was he pushed?
Irvin Irving is a long-time nemesis of Bosch's and yet, now, when it is a member of his family involved, he demands that Bosch be assigned to investigate because he knows that Harry will seek the truth, damn the consequences.
Bosch hates what he terms "high jingo," meaning political influence in police investigations, but he has no choice but to accept the assignment to the Irving case, and so he and his partner set about working to solve two cases at once without short-changing either.
The dichotomy which Connelly shows between these two cases, the twenty-year-old cold case featuring a victim who has been forgotten and the current case of the death of a politically connected and influential businessman, creates a tension which the detectives must deal with as they pursue solutions to both mysteries. But we know Harry' philosophy: Everyone counts or nobody counts. There is never any doubt that he will throw himself heart and soul into finding the answers and bringing the bad guys to justice.
This was a tightly plotted tale, and Connelly moved the story along at a quick pace. It was everything that long-time fans of the series have come to expect in the best of the Harry Bosch police procedurals, which is something very good indeed.
Incidentally, the Irving death was one of the plots dramatized in season two of Amazon's Bosch TV series, but they changed the story almost beyond recognition for television. The TV episode was okay, but the book version was better and truer to the long-established relationship between Bosch and Irving.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars