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9 Dragons    by Michael Connelly order for
9 Dragons
by Michael Connelly
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

LAPD Homicide Special Detective Harry Bosch is unhappy with his junior partner, Ignacio Ferras, whose mind is more on his young family than on the job. But his relationship with his daughter Madeline gives him joy and keeps the demons at bay. Maddie, now thirteen, lives in Hong Kong with Harry's ex, Eleanor Wish. Harry visits Hong Kong frequently. Maddie texts her dad regularly and sends him video messages from the new cell phone he bought her on her last visit to Los Angeles.

As 9 Dragons opens, Harry and Ignacio are assigned to a 'fresh kill', that of John Li, owner of Fortune Liquors. Li had made a memorable impact on Bosch's life when they met twelve years before and Harry took away a matchbook with the fortune inside - 'Happy Is The Man Who / Finds Refuge In Himself'. With Asian Gang Unit Detective David Chu translating in witness interviews, they determine that it was a triad murder. There is tension between Harry and Chu, the latter assuming that Harry's Vietnam experiences have left him prejudiced against Asians. When their prime suspect, a triad member named Chang, goes on the run, Harry believes a police leak has tipped him off.

Harry's not too concerned by a phone threat, but then he checks the latest video message from Maddie and goes ballistic when he realizes she's been kidnapped. He had always believed that 'one day it would come to this, that the darkness would find her and that she would be used to get to him. That day was now.' Harry heads straight to Hong Kong, where he joins forces with Eleanor and her new romantic interest, bodyguard Sun Yee. Harry's determined to track down the triad that has taken Mads and will do whatever it takes to get her back. Sun Yee supplies a gun and Harry works a thirty-nine hour day, racing against time before his daughter disappears 'into a netherworld of dark choices from which she would never return.'

Sound like the plot of a Ransom or Taken movie? Naturally Michael Connelly puts a new spin on it, introducing twists and turns - and big surprises - to his rollercoaster plot. And he makes it even more of a family affair by involving Defense Attorney Mickey Haller, of Lincoln Lawyer fame. Bosch had Haller's back in The Brass Verdict. Now, when Hong Kong police come after Harry for the corpses left in his wake, it's Mickey who handles them. Connelly fans should rush to read 9 Dragons, an explosive thriller that changes the direction of Harry Bosch's life for good.

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