"The pedagogue’s mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye he pictured to himself every roasting pig running about with a pudding in his belly and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cozily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. "

- Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
The Drop, by Michael Connelly

The title of this Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly, The Drop, refers to a police department acronym for a special procedure for allowing a detective to stay on past mandatory retirement. Since Harry, an old Vietnam veteran, is already past that point, getting a further extension is important to him. His job is his life, or at least it was until his teenage daughter came to live with him.

Bosch felt a brief stirring in his gut. It was a mixture of instinct and knowing that there was an order of things in the world. The truth was revealed to the righteous. He often felt it at the moment things started to tumble together on a case.

When The Drop begins, Harry and his partner, who are on the cold case squad, are assigned to re-investigate a twenty year old rape-murder. DNA from a blood smear found on the body has been matched to a known sex offender. The only problem is that the offender was eight years old at the time the teenage victim was killed. Is it just an evidence mix-up, or something more complicated?

But they’ve hardly started the job before they’re called up by the Chief’s office to handle a current case. A lawyer, the son of Harry’s old nemesis, the political reptile Irvin Irving, has fallen – or jumped – from a balcony in a posh Beverly Hills hotel. It looks like suicide, but there are discrepancies. And Harry is soon following a trail that winds through the treacherous terrain of city and police politics – what ordinary cops call “high jingo.” Games are being played, and somebody is trying to use Harry for their own purposes.

Running through the story are themes of guilt, forgiveness, and redemption. Harry gets involved with a woman who is wracked by guilt and the question of where evil comes from. Harry deals with the same problem in dealing with a sexual predator who was himself a victim, and with several colleagues who betray his trust.

There’s a lot of serious matter in this story, and few answers beyond whodunnit. For mysteries, generally, it’s enough to raise the questions. I read The Drop with great pleasure.

Cautions for language and adult material.


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