Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Drop

In my estimation, Detective Harry Bosch is one of the finest detective characters in the world of crime fiction, past or present, and thankfully, he will be around for a while longer.  The first Harry Bosch novel, The Black Echo, was released in 1992 and the seventeenth, The Burning Room, in 2014.  Along the way, Harry has had quite a career with the Los Angeles Police Department – even in the two novels during which he had officially retired from the department (2003’s Lost Light and 2004’s The Narrows).  In the last several novels, including The Drop, Harry has come out of retirement to work cold cases for the department as part of a special unit that puts fresh eyes on old crimes.

Harry knows that he is now working against the clock in more ways than one.  For one thing, he will be forced into permanent retirement in just thirty-six months.  More importantly, though, some of the cold cases that come his way are so old that there is already a good chance that the perpetrators are now as dead as their victims.  Time is always on Harry’s mind. 

His unit pulls old evidence from case files and forwards samples to the lab for modern DNA analysis.  The day, once a month, when the few cases that come back with DNA matches are assigned for investigation, always feels like Christmas to Harry.  This time around, however, he gets more than he bargained for. 

Michael Connelly
At the special request of a prominent city councilman, Harry is forced to lead the investigation into the violent death of the councilman’s son.  Did the man jump, or was he pushed to his death from the balcony of one of LA’s landmark hotels?  Harry already has a long history of confrontation with this particular councilman (who is a former LAPD cop), and he cannot imagine why he has been purposely pulled into an investigation that is certain to be influenced by constant political pressure – exactly the kind of case that always gets Harry into trouble with the brass. 

Much to his chagrin, Harry is told to table the cold case he has just been assigned so that he can concentrate on the one involving the “jumper.”  But Harry is having none of that.  Instead, he decides to work the two cases simultaneously despite the political pressure the LA city councilman is unapologetically applying on the department to call his son’s death a murder. 

Harry’s new cold case, involving a 1989 murder, has come back with a DNA hit on a twenty-nine-year-old convicted rapist.  That’s the good news and the bad news - because in 1989, when the woman’s brutal murder took place, the identified suspect was only eight years old.  What could that mean?

The Drop is the portrait of a career cop who believes that his days as an effective investigator are numbered.   He fears that he is losing his investigatory skills to age, and just to further increase his self-doubt, Harry is raising a teenaged daughter on his own, something he feels just might be way beyond the limits of his parenting skills.   One more time, though, Harry proves that he still has it.  The Drop is another fine chapter in the Harry Bosch story.

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