11 May 2005
Is Harry Bosch mellowing? Over the 10 novels in Michael Connelly’s series, the angst-ridden LAPD detective has exorcised numerous demons. He’s battled trauma from his time as a tunnel rat in Vietnam, investigated his mother’s death and discovered that one of his girlfriends bore his daughter. He’s been suspected of murder, stalked by a serial killer and thrown off the force.
Now, with all that resolved, that may be why the 11th Bosch novel, “The Closers,” tightly written and full of twists and turns as usual, seems to be missing something.
The title refers to the newly formed cold-case squad Bosch joins after returning to the LAPD. His job is to reopen cases in which DNA technology has found a possible suspect. Bosch and his partner, Kiz Rider, are assigned to investigate the 1988 murder of a 16-year-old girl who vanished from her parent’s home one night and shot to death in the nearby hills. A DNA match was made between a scrap of flesh found on the murder weapon and a punk who?d lived in the area around the time of the murder. But more evidence is needed, so Bosch and Rider track down those who knew the girl.
As a former reporter with connections with the LAPD, Connelly packs his novels with inside information. In “The Closers,” we learn that a two-six call refers to a meeting with the chief of police, how computers are used to track people, and that private companies help police set up wiretaps.
Connelly’s the best PR for the department since the days of Dragnet, and the parade of facts, details and impressions he hoovers up makes it easy to immerse yourself in the book. And after all the trauma Bosch has suffered, it?s a relief to see him learning again to enjoy his work, if that?s the right word for his near-religious drive for justice for “the chorus of forgotten voices.”
Yet, after closing “The Closers,” I kept thinking, “Is that it?” In interviews, Connelly has said that he wants to focus on the impact violence has on the survivors, but because the story is told from Bosch’s point of view, we only see them when he does. They’re off-stage for most of the book, which drains the juice out of the novel’s climax.