Friday, April 8, 2011

Echo Park

Echo Park
© 2006 Michael Connelly
405 pages

Listen to the first chapter being portrayed in film here. 

Harry Bosch may not be the most charismatic, popular, or politically savvy detective in the Los Angeles Police Department, but he takes every case seriously and keeps pursuing leads until he gets his man.  For thirteen years, the case of Marie Gesto has bothered him:  the young woman disappared more than a decade ago, and neither Bosch nor his partner were able to find any suspects. For over a decade, Marie has haunted Bosch, but now her case may be on the path to resolution. A squad of police detectives working on a burgular case chanced to catch a serial killer at work, and in exchange for commuting his death sentence to life in prison, the man -- Raynard Waits -- has volunteered to confess to thirteen murders, including Gesto's.  Solving thirteen cases in one fell swoop would be a godsend to several police officials hoping to prosper in the upcoming elections, but they can't be sure the man is legitimate. Given his history with the case, Bosch is asked to confirm the man's story.

Like every other Bosch novel I've read, Echo Park sees Bosch following his gut and running afoul of police politics while dating an FBI agent who happens to be helping him. This time the odds are higher: if the confessor's story is legitimate, then Bosch and his partner missed a vital clue thirteen years ago, and the weight of the killer's resulting murders now sits upon their shoulders. Bosch doesn't give a damn about the political ramifications, but the thought that negligence on his part contributed to the death of twelve more young women agonizes his conscience.  That aside, something about the killer doesn't sit right with him -- and as he digs deeper, he realizes there's more afoot here than a killer pleading for leniency.  Echo Park is as much a story of politics and conspiracy as it is a murder whodunit.

As usual, Connelly's setting of Los Angeles is alive, and the neighborhood in question really exists. Its greatest strength -- besides a villain who takes his inspiration from medieval legends -- is the conflict within Bosch as he struggles with the idea that he screwed up.  Police detectives on television and in books are often portrayed as following their instincts before evidence, and usually being proven right, and the possible shakeup intrigued me. Would Connelly make Bosch face the consequences of misplaced judgment....or would he keep to the standard approach and see the detective triumph in the end?

I'd call it a 'fairly good story'. I'm lending my copy of the book to my sister to see how she'll take to Connelly and Bosch.

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