Can we still call it a police procedural if Harry Bosch is no longer with the police? In his last outing, The Burning Room, Harry was suspended from the LAPD on (as usual) a trumped-up complaint. In order to fight that complaint, he would have been tied up in paperwork for months and months and would have had no salary during that time. With a daughter getting ready to start college, that did not seem to be a viable option. So Harry retired. And then filed suit against the LAPD.
We encounter him now, several months later, waiting the resolution of the suit and feeling bored and restless.
He's into restoring an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which takes up a few minutes of each day, but the rest of the time he's rattling around looking for things to keep his active mind occupied. Mickey Haller to the rescue!
Mickey, the Lincoln Lawyer and Harry's half-brother, has a case on which he needs an investigator. His own regular investigator, Dennis "Cisco" Wojciechowski, is out of action after being knocked off of his motorcycle and almost killed in a highly suspicious hit-and-run. Cisco was lucky to be able to crawl away from the accident, but soon others who have a connection to Haller's case start turning up dead.
The case involves a brutal murder and rape (in that order) of Alexandra "Lexie" Parks, an assistant city manager for West Hollywood and the wife of a county sheriff's deputy. The crime looks like a home invasion where the woman was murdered in her own bed. There is no obvious motive.
At first there are no suspects either, but soon the police find DNA evidence that leads them to Da'Quan Foster. Foster had been in trouble with the police once before and so fit the profile as far as they were concerned. Once the DNA was found, they looked no further, even though the suspect insisted he did not know Parks and had no reason to kill her, plus he had an alibi for the time of the killing. Unfortunately, the person who could have given him that alibi is one of the people who have since turned up dead.
Coincidence? Not in a Connelly novel. Harry Bosch doesn't believe in coincidence.
Bored as he is though, Harry resists going to work for the defense. It goes against all of his training and instincts. For him, the accused are always guilty and it's up to him to prove it. Haller is convinced that his client is innocent and has been set up, possibly by the police. Bosch refuses to consider that possibility, but is finally persuaded by a meeting with Da'Quan Foster, in which he senses that he is, in fact, innocent, and the idea that, if Foster is innocent, the real killer is still out there walking around somewhere. For the sake of "his" victim, Harry can never let that stand.
Soon, Harry finds himself working on what he refers to as "the dark side" and he becomes a pariah to most of his old cronies at the LAPD. He gets obscenity-laden phone calls from some of them excoriating him for working for a defense lawyer. But once Harry commits to the investigation, he follows where the evidence leads and it leads into some very dark and dirty corners.
Michael Connelly just keeps getting better and better at being a suspense writer. This is a tightly plotted and constructed thriller that is ambitious in scope and is, in my opinion, one of the very best he has ever written - and I've read them all up to this point. I'm gaining on Connelly; two more to go in the Bosch file and I'll catch up to him.
It's interesting to see Harry, uneasily cast as an investigator for the defense, and employing all of his considerable experience of thirty-plus years with the LAPD to search the files for police errors and coverups that a less experienced investigator might not be able to see. He knows all the tricks of the homicide investigator and he's not going to let them pass. The methods he uses are the ones that he learned in all those years as a homicide detective seeking justice for "his" victims. So, yes, this is still a police procedural.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars