My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Harry Bosch has been with LAPD for twenty-eight years, more than half of those years as a homicide detective. He's now a detective third-grade, which means that he is team leader on investigations. In that capacity, he led his two partners in the investigation of the suspicious death of a woman several months ago. The woman's body was discovered by her roommate. She was naked, lying on her bed, posed in a way that would lead one to suppose that she died accidentally during a self-manipulated erotic asphyxiation. Harry has seen a few such deaths and he almost immediately suspects that this one isn't what it appears to be.
In the course of the investigation, it is learned that the woman, who was an aspiring actress, was out with a famous movie director on the night she died. Suspicion falls upon the man. A search warrant is executed and the team goes to search his house, where nothing related to the crime is found. As they are leaving, Harry is standing at the doorway, giving the man a written notification concerning the search and telling him that they are taking nothing away. The man smirkingly admits to Bosch that he killed the woman and tells him he'll never be able to prove it.
And that is all background to the main action in A Darkness More Than Night.
At the time we enter the story, the trial of the killer is beginning and Bosch is part of the prosecutorial team and the chief witness. But it takes the narrative a while to get to that trial.
Instead, it starts by introducing another of Michael Connelly's characters, a former FBI profiler named Terry McCaleb. McCaleb has a new life - a new heart, a new wife, a new daughter who is four months old. He also has a new occupation. He and his partner take out charter fishing groups on his boat. But he misses his old work and when a local policewoman contacts him to take a look at a particularly nasty murder case that she's working, he jumps at the chance to work with her. This does not go down well with McCaleb's wife, Graciela.
Apparently, McCaleb has appeared as the main character in other Connelly books, but I haven't read them, and I was a little disconcerted at having this story told mostly from his viewpoint when I was expecting another Harry Bosch case. Even so, after I made the adjustment in my expectations, I found the tale absorbing, although I never really warmed up much to McCaleb.
Through a set of all-too-convenient (and obviously contrived) circumstances, McCaleb identifies Harry Bosch as the main suspect in the new murder. At the same time, Harry is testifying in the old case and appearing on court television in the high-profile case. Connelly does a workmanlike job of bringing the two plot lines together and eventually connecting them.
Actually, my favorite parts of the book were the courtroom scenes. Connelly has a real flair for writing such scenes, a flair that he exercises fully in his Lincoln Lawyer series. In this book, Bosch's portion of the story takes place, for the most part, in the courtroom, and that is a bonus.
I enjoyed the book throughout, but I found the wrap-up at the end rather ambiguous and confusing. McCaleb goes to Bosch's house and tells him over a beer that Bosch is not his friend anymore. His justification for such a statement - after Bosch had saved his life - was just convoluted and incoherent, not to mention ungrateful. I'm hoping that McCaleb will not be a permanent feature in the Bosch series.
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