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by Michael Connelly
Little, Brown, November 2012
416 pages
ISBN: 0316069434

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Intrepid investigator Harry Bosch is back in Michael Connelly's engrossing new novel THE BLACK BOX. As is usually the case with Connelly, the title will prove to have a number of relevant meanings as we watch Bosch work through the intricacies of a case that is two decades old. As an investigator with the Open-Unsolved Unit, all of Bosch's cases are from the past, but this one has special significance for him. Twenty years ago, during the chaotic few days of the 1992 LA riots, he was called to a murder scene in an alley. The victim was a woman, a foreign journalist named Anneke Jespersen. Because the city was in such chaos, he was only able to do the barest of crime scene work-ups and investigation. This had always bothered him, and now he has a chance to work further. Going through the case files and materials, he discovers the bullet casing he had picked up at the scene.

Firearms analysis technology has become more sophisticated since that time, and when he sends it in, he receives back information that provides some leads.

Bosch discovers that the gun that killed Jespersen was used in other crimes many years after her murder. At first, it is seemingly a matter of "following the gun," finding out who had possession of it and tracking them down. The idea that gang members committed the crime is the working hypothesis, but soon other facts point to a much less obvious conclusion. Bosch's minute attention to detail and unwillingness to give up the search for answers channels him into another whole area of crime and conspiracy and cover-up. He must discover why Jespersen came to the United States and what story she was pursuing. He contacts the newspaper she worked for and also speaks with her still-grieving brother. Bosch spends time studying the photographs she took and translating information about her as well as some of the articles she wrote. He learns that she was a photojournalist immersed in some of the most horrific wars of the late 20th Century. Anneke Jespersen would not let up on a story, and Bosch feels he owes it to her to be as persistent in uncovering her murderers. He discovers connections to the war in Kuwait, to Germany and Atlanta and LA and eventually to California's Central Valley.

As is often the case with Bosch, he must fight for the case. His superiors do not want him to continue his seemingly fruitless search and Bosch clashes with his new boss Cliff O'Toole. Whether it is because the people in charge are only interested in closing cases quickly, or if there is more politics involved, Bosch is placed under investigation. The idea that all people deserve justice is a driving force for Bosch, and he cares less about the threat to his own career than in fulfilling his promise to the dead woman.

Bosch also has to leave room in his obsessive work life for his daughter Maddie, his girlfriend Hannah Stone, and the ordinary parts of living, like eating and listening to his beloved jazz. It rings true for the reader that the parts of the book that are most brilliant are those that deal with his work unraveling the case. His personal life is of less interest to both him and us. Bosch risks both his professional and personal safety to get the answers he knows are out there. In the end, his persistence pays off.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, November 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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