Just read "City of Bones," by Michael Connelly. I met him once at a very strange event in Fort Lauderdale (click here to read all about it). He's the reincarnation of Raymond Chandler. As Yardley said recently in a review, his debt to Chandler is sometimes a bit blatant. He should probably pay royalties to the Chandler estate. Both writers have detectives who drive around Los Angeles, wind up in strange cul-de-sacs and remote mountain hamlets and get beat up a couple of times and probably drink too much and sleep with the wrong women and ultimately somehow untangle an extremely elaborate murder mystery.
But Harry Bosch, Connelly's hero, is somehow even more believable than Philip Marlowe. Marlowe seemed to be a Hollywood character, a film noir hero even before there was such a thing as film noir. Bosch is fundamentally a professional, trying to abide by good procedure even as he sometimes forgets to tell his partner that he's just solved the case. In "City of Bones" he keeps getting a gut instinct that his slam-dunk solution to the murder is not quite right; the gut doesn't lie. The plot has a twist too many, perhaps, but the ending does not challenge credulity, but rather is kind of simple -- a parsimonious explanation, as any scientist would appreciate.
The ultimate attribute of Connelly is that he can write. Here's his opening paragraph:
"The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late. She had dug her fingers into the paint and plaster of the nearby wall until most of her fingernails had broken off. Then she had gone for the neck, scrabbling to push the bloodied fingertips up and under the cord. She broke four toes kicking at the walls. She had tried so hard, shown such a desperate will to live, that it made Harry Bosch wonder what had happened before. Where was that determination and will and why had it deserted her until after she had put the extension cord noose around her neck and kicked over the chair? Why had it hidden from her?"
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