The Black Box, by Michael Connelly

I wonder if the recent popularity surge of Scandinavian detective novels influenced Michael Connelly to add a Scandinavian element to his latest Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box. It doesn’t really matter. The Bosch series continues very strong, and I think the Scandinavians will like it for its own sake.

When Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch, Connelly’s most famous detective, first appeared in a novel, he was dealing with the chaos of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. This story takes us back to that surreal time. There were so many murders that detectives weren’t able to do proper crime scene work. They got shunted from place to place, protected by the National Guard, with time only to take a few pictures and notes before calling the meat wagons and rushing off somewhere else.

One murder scene he visited that night has nagged at Harry ever since. It involved the body of a white woman, who “shouldn’t have been in that neighborhood” at all. In time she was identified as Anneke Jesperson, a Danish freelance reporter and photographer. Twenty years later, now working on the Unsolved Crimes squad, Harry takes the case up again. But he finds that his superiors are not only not enthusiastic about him opening the case, but openly obstructive – it would be bad politics to solve the murder of a white woman on the twentieth anniversary of the riots.

Harry doesn’t care. He plays hardball both with the brass and with his suspects. He’s willing to go without backup onto his enemies’ home ground in order to flush them out. I was a little worried about a somewhat clichéd plot element here, but I thought Connelly resolved it in a believable way.

The Harry Bosch series is one of the best police procedurals going today, and it shows no sign of flagging. Recommended, with cautions for violence, mature themes, and language.

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