When a dog returns to its waiting owner with a human bone clutched in its jaws, Detective Harry Bosch inherits one of the coldest of cases, the 20-year-old murder of a young boy who was never reported missing. Bosch has seen everything during his long career with the LAPD but he is still capable of feeling a sense of outrage about the murders he investigates for the city. And what he learns about the short life of this young murder victim will hit him particularly hard.
It soon becomes obvious that the boy lived not just a short life, but a very painful one. There is evidence of numerous breaks in the bones recovered by the police and some of the fractures appear to have been suffered when the boy was only two years old. Bosch knows there is a killer out there who believes that he will never be caught - and that the killer is likely to be one of the boy's parents. What he does not know is the boy’s name or who his parents are.
There can be no doubt that Michael Connelly is a master of the police procedural and much of City of Bones is textbook police procedural. The reader is intimately exposed to the time-consuming and tedious process that is a police investigation, including the dozens of false leads that have to be worked before the real ones can be followed. Detective Bosh and his partner, Jerry Edgar, are determined that, against all odds, they will bring this boy’s killer to justice and, as one piece of the puzzle after another slowly begins to fall into place, they seem to be getting there. But at what cost to the boy’s family and to the detectives, themselves?
City of Bones is a superb procedural but what saves it from the possibility of becoming tedious are side-plots involving two women well known Harry Bosch. One is the egotistical coroner he is forced to work with, a woman so determined to become a national celebrity that she has her own documentary cameraman follow her around from case to case. The other is an overage police rookie who manages to attach herself to both Bosch and the case he is working. Between these complications, the internal politics of the LAPD and the 20-year-old murder case, Bosch has plenty on his plate.
What longtime Harry Bosch fans will remember most about City of Bones, however, is likely to be the revelation Harry makes at the very end of the story.
Reader, beware: Don’t go there first.
Rated at: 3.5