Monday, April 23, 2007


by Michael Connelly
Warne Books
484 pages

Sometimes how one picks a book to read is as interesting as the book itself. Case in point, last weekend found me in Rochester, NY, to attend a family wedding. Thinking I’d only be there for a few days, I brought along a copy of THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN (see review below this one) with me. Alas a Spring storm barreled into the region on the day of the wedding and suddenly I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Having read my travel book, and knowing I’d be in the hotel for another night, I tried to find a bookstore in an area I’m completely unfamiliar with. My wife suggested I merely visit one of the retail outlets near the hotel. Now big chain stores like Walmart and Target do carry books, but in such a limited number, their criteria is strictly determined by a title’s status on the bestseller list. And of course what the rest of the masses choose to read most likely will not be your cup of tea.

Thus it was that I found myself browsing these “bestseller” titles in hopes of finding one book that would both appeal and ultimately entertain me. There were all the Stephen King, and Dean R.Koontz titles as expected, but amongst those I’d already read the titles that fascinated me and had no desire to peruse the others. Okay, so it was time to inspect writers I’d never tried. Which is how I came to pick up Michael Connelly’s THE CONCRETE BLONDE. I was familiar with Connelly’s name and the glowing reviews his police dramas starring Detective Harry Bosch had accumulated over the years. I had been mildly curious about them. But there were three Connelly titles on those racks. I picked this one because the title was the most dramatic and it hooked me.

Four years ago, Detective Harry Bosch, hunted and caught a serial killer known as the Dollmaker. In the confrontation, Bosch had to shoot the suspect and the case, upon review by the department, was ruled justified and closed. But for the family of the Frank Church, the man identified as the Dollmaker, the evident was not so conclusive and they have filed a wrongful death charge against Bosch in a civil suit. Bosch, as much as he finds the proceedings distasteful, begrudgingly submits to the department’s wishes and accepts a state appointed prosecutor to defend him against a very slick, and savvy female trial lawyer known as Money Chandler.

No sooner has the trial begun then a body is discovered, buried in concrete with the same tell-tale signatures of a Dollmaker victim. When forensics discovers the woman was killed several years after the death of Frank Church, everything about Bosch’s trail suddenly goes topsy-turvy. Once Chandler learns there have been other murders dated after the Church shooting, her victory is assured. But that isn’t what bothers Harry Bosch. He is more concerned with the fact that, if he did shoot the wrong man four years earlier, then the real Dollmaker is still on the loose and ready to kill again.

What begins as a run-of-the-mill trial drama quickly evolves into a fast paced hunt for a sadistic serial killer with inside knowledge about the police’s methods and files. Bosch soon begins to realize his prey may even be a fellow officer. It is a taut, well written thriller that keeps you guessing until the end, with plenty of red-herrings along the way. As is the case in such series, getting to know and like the hero is a major selling point. Why bother coming back for more, if you don’t empathize with the protagonist. I found myself liking Harry Bosch and by the end of this book was very predisposed to picking up more of his books. Maybe the next time I’m stuck in another town.


BobbyNash said...

Ron, I cannot recommend the Harry Bosch novels highly enough. They are always on my "buy them when they come out" list. Connelly is a fantastic writer and his books have yet to disappoint.

Oddly enough, my Dad recently picked up this book for the very same reason you did and was hooked. He's been borrowing my Connelly books to catch up on Harry's latest exploits.


Ron Fortier said...

Thanks for sharing that, Bobby. I really enjoyed CONCRETE BLONDE and will not hesitate to pick up more
Connelly titles in the future.