I’m a big Michael Connelly fan. I love Harry Bosch. He’s hard-boiled enough to pick up from the greats, but with a soft centre. I also like how the characters interweave, like some great complex ballet, some extended narrative. You make connections between them and they live their lives beyond the text… Jack McEvoy is no exception – along with Rachel Walling, who have appeared in other Connelly texts.
What I miss about Bosch, though, is the world-weary cynicism and the blues he brings to the storyline. Yes, this has pace and threat and twists, although the reader knows who the key players are and what has happened on both sides of the good/evil line. It reads like your run-of-the-mill crime thriller, where the Bosch ones have an edge. The Poet, where we met Rachel before, was clever. There’s no empathy or motivation for the killers in this novel – they seem to just do it without reason. I didn’t really ‘get’ Jack… he’s not got the edge that Harry has, the sadness, the cynicism, the drinking a beer in an empty bar at the end of the night… the Hopper painting that so beautifully conveys the sad tragedy of the gritty Bosch. In fact, I found the preview of the 2 chapters of Nine Dragons better than the rest of this novel. Sad, I know!
I love Michael Connelly. I love Bosch, and I loved Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer, but Jack doesn’t cut the mustard. Connelly is one of my top three ‘thriller’ writers, with Robert Crais and Lee Child, but this one didn’t do it for me. I don’t mind the widening of investigative repertoire… Rachel and Jack are fine with me, but they’re no Terry McCaleb, and they’re no Harry Bosch. Still, it passed the time. And that’s damned the book with faint praise, I know!