Over the course of a couple of decades, former Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Connelly has built a densely-populated world of LA cops, criminals and lawyers. His books about attorney Mickey Haller, including “The Lincoln Lawyer,” are among the best legal thrillers of the modern day.
But Connelly’s body of work most often focuses on Harry Bosch, a veteran LA police detective who is as good at maneuvering through LA police politics as he is at solving crimes.
Lately, Bosch has been part of an LAPD unit working cold cases, and in “The Black Box,” Bosch’s latest cold case seems very cold indeed. Bosch gets the opportunity to try to close a case that he had opened in the spring of 1992, when LA was wracked by riots and murders in the wake of the verdict in the trial of four white cops charged with beating a black man. The cops were found not guilty and parts of the city erupted in an orgy of arson, violence, looting and murder.
Bosch investigates the death of a young woman, a journalist from Denmark, who was found shot to death in an alley in an area wracked by violence. Bosch refuses to believe the young woman was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are too many homicides to allow lengthy investigations. The woman’s murder goes unsolved.
Twenty years later, Bosch picks up the case again, working on LAPD’s Open/Unsolved squad, and – as readers know Bosch is prone to doing – begins pushing at the edges of the case, looking for previously undiscovered information and trying to find new leads.
In doing so, he incurs the wrath of his superiors, who are worried about more controversy if the first of the cold cases to be solved is a white woman instead of the many people of color who were victims during the riots.
Bosch always follows the truth, however, which means that he pursues the journalist’s murder with a vengeance.
Connelly’s latest gives us a Bosch who is as single-minded and, frankly, rude and irritating as ever. He’s usually right and not afraid to show it.
But Bosch is the kind of cop all of us would want on the case if a loved one had been murdered.
And Connelly is the kind of writer we’d want recounting the tale.