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The Harry Bosch Novels    by Michael Connelly order for
Harry Bosch Novels
by Michael Connelly
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2001 (2001)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Harry 'Hieronymous' Bosch is as much his own worst enemy as James Lee Burke's lawman David Robichaux in New Orleans or Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus in Edinburgh, Scotland. He's stubborn, true to his own instincts and often at odds with superiors. Harry pursues cases they consider worthless, is against cover-ups and unwilling to toe the political line. If you enjoy this complex character as much as I do, you can spend a lot of time with him in the eight hundred pages of The Harry Bosch Novels, which include: The Black Echo, The Black Ice and The Concrete Blonde. The author conveys Harry's lifestyle succinctly through his surroundings, showing him awaking from a nightmare fully dressed and slumped in a living room chair ... 'On the table next to the chair were the companions of insomnia: playing cards, magazines, and paperback mystery novels - these only lightly thumbed and then discarded.' His sleep problems are attributed to the fact that you 'can't patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid'.

The Black Echo takes Harry back into the nightmare country of 'tunnel rats' in Vietnam, when an ex-comrade-in-arms is found dead in a drainpipe. Harry's partner is more interested in his sideline selling real estate than in investigating the death of a junkie, but Harry believes 'There are no coincidences'. His interest is aroused further when he finds out that the man was tortured as well as murdered, and investigation leads to an FBI connection and to partnership with attractive agent Eleanor Wish. Connections to tunneling bank robbers bring Harry (because of his Vietnam background) under suspicion. Lewis and Clarke of Internal Affairs Division are 'sharks circling for the kill'. Harry and Eleanor become lovers as their personal situations grow increasingly dangerous, and the author concludes a long sequence of surprises with an ending worthy of the best of Raymond Chandler.

The Black Ice opens with Harry (on Christmas duty) alone watching a bushfire move up the hillside near his home, his only friend a timid coyote. When a call comes on the scanner and he's told that the 'hats have got it all squared away', Harry digs in his heels and heads to the scene. The corpse turns out to be that of a very ripe, and rumored to be corrupt, narcotics officer. Bosch's sympathy is engaged by the dead cop's schoolteacher wife Sylvia. He tracks down links to a twenty-first century drug named black ice, a body in a dumpster, fruit flies, an IAD investigation and Mexico. As usual, the author delivers an ending that surprises both the detective and his readers ... and Harry is not on his own for New Year's Eve.

The Concrete Blonde opens with a flashback to Harry's shooting of the man he believed to be the Dollmaker, a serial killer who applied makeup to his dead porn actress victims. Four years later while Harry is being tried for use of 'excessive force', a recent victim is found buried under a concrete slab. The detective investigates, while an insider sets up Harry by leaking information to the prosecution lawyer. Civil rights attorney Honey 'Money' Chandler is out to get Harry. She quotes Nietzsche to the jury - 'Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster', reveals to them that Harry's mother was a murdered prostitute, and tells Harry that 'Justice ... is just a concrete blonde.' Despite all this, Bosch rather admires her. As the trial builds to a climax, leads successively pan out and the killer is able to strike again.

These three tales are sequential in time, with common threads running through them of a nonconformist cop obsessed with cases whose victims have something in common with his own dark history - his time in Vietnam, his unhappy childhood and his murdered mother. But, despite everything, Harry has not become a monster, and there is hope in all the blackness, reflected in the ending of the third of his stories. If you've missed this series to date, catch up with three of the best Bosch books in one.

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