Re: RARA-AVIS: ECHO PARK by M. Connelly

From: Patrick King (
Date: 15 Mar 2008

I'm in the middle of ECHO PARK and really enjoy it. This is police procedural, and Harry Bosch is an interesting character. Bosch takes being a detective very seriously and this is a problem for other law enforcement personnell who have to work with him. Most of his colleagues are doing a job, Bosch sees detective work as almost an art. He considers himself a "true" detective. Consequently he's a very loose cannon and people who work closely with him can never be sure exactly how he'll proceed or if he'll keep them in the loop even if his process directly effects them.

Marie Gesto disappeared from a supermarket on her way to a riding stable in 1993 and Harry and his partner Jerry Edgar caught the case. They found her car in the garage of an unrented LA apartment house with all her clothes in it, but they've never been able to discover who put it there. Bosch settled on a suspect, wealthy Anthony Garland, who's ex girlfriend had lived in the vacent apartment and is a dead ringer for missing Gesto. After numerous interviews Bosch is still unable to actually arrest Garland for the crime.

The story begins when two LA patrole men stop a glass cleaner's truck in Echo Park at 3 am because the license plates are for a Mustang, and find Reynard Waits, a convicted sex criminal, with platstic bags containing the remains of two women. To avoid the death penalty, Waits wants to confess to the murder of Gesto and six others. LA assistant district attorney, Rick O'Shea, is running hard to be elected DA and wants very much to make this deal and solve 9 cold homocides. But Bosch's lover, an FBI profiler, points out some discrepencies in the big picture of Reynard Waits.

This story is compelling. There's none of the linguistic gymnastics you find in Ellroy, or the fantasy book absurdity of Thomas Harris in Connelley's writing. The plot is honestly complex and thought through. I'm finding it very satisfying.

On the other hand, there is no humor of the type you find in McBain/Hunter or Leonard to lighten the intensity and heighten the engagement. Bosch is a depressed person who keeps going because of his obsession with his job. He's very intelligent but he gets stuck thinking in one direction and this causes most of his problems. Also, Connelly seems obsessed with tacky nick names. Garland's father is Thomas Rex Garland, hence T. Rex. The ADA is Rick O'Shea, the killer is Reynard Waits. And to top it off, Harry Bosch's given name is Hieronymus! Come on! I'm reading this very realistic crime novel and the characters all sound like comic book villians. I must say that every time I run into one of these names it pulls me out of the story and makes me think how silly these names are. Still, Waits' police sobriquet, "The Bagman" is, in my opinion, very good and believable.

So far I'm loving this book. I'll let you know how I feel about the resolution when I hit it tomorrow or Monday.

Michael Connelley is an excellent choice for March.

Patrick King

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