Monday, August 08, 2005

The Closers by Michael Connelly

Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch is back where he belongs, rejoining the LAPD after three years in exile as a private investigator. Bosch is dropped into the Open-Unsolved Unit, the "closers", a squad focused on cold cases - unsolved homicides - tracking down a DNA hit from a 17-year old murder of a teenage girl.

The Closers is Michael Connelly's 11th mystery featuring Harry Bosch and he delves into it with all the verve and strength of the previous novels, building a deepening mystery that slowly unfolds and develops. Connelly's Bosch is dogged, resourceful and persistent, bring his own tattered and haunted past to bear on uncovering the truth behind the killing, while tracing the echoing wake of the tragedy on the family and friends of the young victim.

The 'cold case' concept seems to be in vogue now, partially due to the success of television shows like CSI but The Closers does an excellent job building the reasoning, logic and evidence behind the case, and dropping in a enough mysterious twists to give life to the storyline that goes beyond just being a solid and robust police procedural. Well written, well-paced and taut, The Closers is well worth your time.

One notable relief in the book is the absence of any Hannibal Lector-type serial killer, a characterization that is frankly all-to-frequently used in murder mysteries - to the detriment of both the mystery and the skills of the author at drawing more vivid, purpose-driven characters, rather then another remorseless, uniquely twisted cartoon caricature. Much of the current crop of crime fiction that is replete and obsessed with serial killers reminds me a little of how the Agatha Christie school of murder (exotic poisons, locked room mysteries, esoteric get the picture) was so very out-of-touch with the real world. It took Raymond Chandler's mysteries to bring murder back to the street, back to real motives and real weapons, with real passions that spoke to the experiences of the world. Here's hoping that Connelly and some of his fellow authors are finally moving away from the serial killer writer's trap.

For more background on the author Michael Connelly, drop by his official website.

Check out Bosch's employers at the LAPD Online. For that matter learn a little bit more about Bosch's namesake Hieronymus Bosch, a painter termed by Carl Jung, the "master of the monstrous".

Lastly if you are still interested in reading serial killer mysteries, you might want to check out Elliott Leyton's classic book Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer for the definitive real-world portrait.

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