The Black Box

Mysterious Book Report No. 97

by John Dwaine McKenna

Now that the idea of spring is finally a reality, winter’s been banished until years end and new life is springing up in every direction, we’re putting a new heading at the top of the old MBR.  It just seemed like it was the right thing to do, but we’d like to know what you feel about it.  If you think it’s great—just about the best thing to come along since hip pockets or sliced bread—kindly let Mrs. Brown know about it, as she worked long and hard to design it.  (lora@rhyolitepress.com)  If not . . . please let yours truly know . . . contact info is at the end of this and every column.  As Elvis said, “Thank you.  Thankyouverymuch.  Thank you.”  Now for the Mysterious Book Report.

The Black Box, (Little, Brown, $27.99, 403 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-06943-4) by Michael Connelly, is another chapter in the continuing story of one of the best tough guys to ever come along in crime fiction, Detective Sergeant Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department.  He’s past mandatory retirement age and still on active duty thanks to a five year extension called the DROP, working on the open-unsolved, or cold case unit, when he’s given the twenty year old unsolved homicide of a woman journalist who was murdered during the 1992 riots that devastated LA after the Rodney King trial.  It’s a case Bosch has never forgotten because he was the responding officer when Anneke Jesperson was shot in the head execution style in the Watts section of the city at the height of the riots.  The evidence was filed away and the murder was left unsolved for two decades.  Jurisdictional interference and work overloads have prevented her case from being properly examined—until now. Bosch wasn’t able to fully investigate the crime when it happened because of sheer case overload.  The LAPD was overwhelmed by the number of homicides during the riots to do the job properly . . . a fact not forgotten by him.  The case begins to break when Bosch is able to find the pistol used in the women’s murder . . . the first step in opening the ‘black box” that will solve the case.  From the Iraq and Afghan war zones, to Denmark and the USA, Bosch follows the faint trail that leads to a killer who’s been hiding in plain sight for twenty years.  In spite of opposition from a unit supervisor who’s more concerned with numbers and promotions than the human victims, Bosch soldiers on, determined to take the case to its surprising conclusion.  With the deft and expert touch of a maestro, Connelly once again reminds us all why he’s the undisputed alpha dog of the crime writing pack.

You can be the smartest dog in your group, just by frequenting your local library and reading, but you’ve gotta get off the couch and go.  Nobody else can do it for you.  “Read or surrender to ignorance.”  Confucius wrote that 2,500 years ago and it’s still true today.

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–JDM