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THE CONCRETE BLONDE - 2002
By Michael Connelly
Grand Central Publishing
Harry Bosch is a burned out, chain-smoking Los Angeles detective who still has nightmares
about serving as a "tunnel rat" during the war in 'Nam. His
first appearance was in a novel called THE BLACK ECHO, back in 1991. A
fine sequel, THE BLACK ICE made Edgar winner Michael Connelly a name to
be reckoned with. Then came this novel, THE CONCRETE BLONDE.
I also loved the sequels THE LAST COYOTE, TRUNK MUSIC, and (not as much)
ANGEL'S FLIGHT. But, since I figured Feo wouldn't give me half his site
to rave about the guy, I had to pick one. So I did.
Okay, I love Bosch. Finally, a hero named Harry. He's tough. He hits people. He resents
authority. He manipulates both his bosses at Parker Center and the media.
He also screws up regularly and is always in trouble with somebody upstairs.
But like a brainier Lt. Columbo he picks and persists and probes and ultimately
gets his man. He is smart without being brilliant, relentlessly dedicated
and impossible to corrupt (something to be admired here in Los Angeles). He is less successful with the ladies he
pursues, they are troubled souls all; but our Harry keeps plugging away.
While not plotted quite as deviously as THE BLACK ICE, THE
CONCRETE BLONDE is a masterpiece of what I call the "police procedural noir."
It has several plot lines running simultaneously: Harry Bosch, whose relationship
has begun to go a bit sour, is being sued by the widow of a man he shot
and killed several years ago; a suspect who reached for something while
being arrested. This was a man believed guilty of several murders under
the nom de plume "The Dollmaker." The widow is now crying police
brutality, and arguing that the evidence against her husband was circumstantial.
Just as Bosch is about to testify, another body is discovered, poured
into the concrete foundation of a building . . . and the MO is identical
to that of The Dollmaker.
Connelly is a master at planting and re-using images, and the concrete blonde of
the title is
(a) the girl in cement,
(b) the statue of 'blind justice' outside the courtroom, and
(c) the tough, hard-nosed woman attorney who is callously suing Bosch,
and the LAPD, out of greed (in THE BLACK ICE, the
title applies to a new street drug, dangerous oily snow, and the look
in a woman's eyes).
THE CONCRETE BLONDE switches back-and-forth between the courtroom and the murder investigation,
as the pressure slowly mounts on Harry. In Michael Connelly's novels there
tends to be a number of suspects, each of whom is slowly eliminated until
a surprise perpetrator is revealed, often as a shock to the hero. In this
book, Bosch gets ahead of both the reader and the other characters for
a nice, clean finish. If you love this kind of novel, I highly recommend
the entire Bosch series and in particular, THE CONCRETE BLONDE.
Four bookwyrms from a true lover of mysteries.
This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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