That Echo Park is my first experience with a Michael Connelly novel is a little hard for me to believe since it is at least the seventh or eighth Harry Bosch novel that I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve been aware of Connelly’s success for a very long time, and even ran into him at a Houston bookstore when he was signing one of his first Harry Bosch books. But, read him, I had not done until now, so it was probably not a great idea for me to start with the twelfth book in the series - too much water under the bridge for Harry, his co-workers, his lovers (past and present), his friends and his enemies.
That is not to say that Echo Park does not work well as a standalone novel, because it does stand just fine on its own. It is more the feeling I got that so much had already happened between some of the book’s main characters that Connelly did not feel it necessary to fully develop them again in Echo Park. But I’m not discouraged - I now plan to read the rest of the series in the order in which the books were written.
Harry Bosch, now almost 60 years old, has returned to the LAPD where he works cold cases, some of which he has been working off and on for years, a few even from home before he rejoined the department. Harry was never able to forget the Marie Gesto case involving a young woman, assumed murdered, whose body was never found. All Gesto left behind was an empty apartment and the neatly folded set of clothing found on the seat of her car.
Harry has a favorite suspect for the crime and periodically pushes on the man until a lawyer forces him to stay away from the suspect. When Harry is notified that someone else is willing to confess to the Gesto murder as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, he is slow to give up on his favorite suspect. It is only when serial killer Reynard Waits leads the police to where Gesto’s body was hidden more than a decade before that Harry begins to believe that the real killer has been found.
His instincts have served Harry well through the years, however, and his sense of unease about what he is told about Gesto’s murder keeps him poking around the edges of the case until he becomes certain that there is much more to the plea bargain than he has been told.
The Harry Bosch of Echo Park is a borderline rogue cop, a guy determined to see justice done, department rules, be damned. He is willing to risk not only his own life, but the life of his FBI lover, Rachel Walling, if it means that he gets his man. Echo Park is a textbook police procedural, even if Bosch does not always follow accepted police procedure, but it is also quite a thriller, encompassing an exciting manhunt and showdown that bring out both the best, and the worst, in Harry Bosch.
Bosch seems to be a good cop trying to get by because it is all he knows how to do. It will be interesting to see how Harry ages as the series continues to move along, but first I am going to visit the much younger Harry Bosch from 1992’s The Black Echo to see how different he was as a cop close to 20 years younger than the one in Echo Park. It should be an interesting trip.
Rated at: 3.5