The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly, A Review

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Going Back to the Beginning

Michael Connelly writes a fine story.  That was true from his very first novel.  It was a pleasure spending time in  The Black Echo. The first novel published by Mr. Connelly was also our introduction to Harry Bosch, L.A. Police Detective.  The book earned him an Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America, only the beginning of many awards, well over twenty bestselling novels.

I just finished listening to the audio version of the book, one I had read years ago.  It was a treat revisiting Harry, going back to his beginnings.

In Audio

An early morning drive this week called for a familiar voice. Narrator, Dick Hill, was perfect choice.

If you are a fan of audiobooks you will know his name.  He is the voice of Jack Reacher (Lee Child, Author)  and Nathan McBride (Andrew Peterson, Author). You will hear his voice on many of W.E.B. Griffin’s novels, Greg Isles’, and hundreds more.  I enjoy his voice. It’s rather like being with a friend after so many audiobooks.  He’s a good fit for the character as well.

The Story

Hieronymus Bosch is a well developed police detective that you are bound to like.  He is an excellent detective, determined to solve his case no matter what.  If that keeps him a bit outside the loop of the police ‘family,’ as they call it, that’s okay with him.  He isn’t afraid to go up against his superiors.  Unfortunately, that maintains a certain unease about him.  It often seems he faces danger from within as well as from those he investigates.

It certainly adds to the complexity in this first novel.  It isn’t easy to solve a murder when being investigated, or you might say stalked, by Internal Affairs.

Bosch happens to be on call the night a body is found in a pipe by the Mulholland Dam. Everyone but Bosch wants to call it a drug overdose and get on to their Sunday plans. Then he gets a closer look and recognizes the dead man as Billy Meadows, a man he knew and worked with in the tunnels of Viet Nam twenty years before.  That makes the case more personal for Harry. What was the former tunnel rat doing to get himself killed?

The investigation that follows leads to an underground bank theft and a complicated path to stopping a murderer.  With factions inside the force that want him off the case and fired, FBI agents with their own agenda, deception from the military, there are few that want to help Harry.  Most are more interested in stopping him,  even as he gets closer to finding answers.  Someone inside the investigation is interfering.  It’s a dramatic page turning plot that you won’t be able to let go of, any more than Harry Bosch can.

Well Crafted and Thoughtful

Mr. Connelly brings to life the frustration, the mystery, the puzzlement, as the clues don’t want to fit together.  He writes in a way that allows you to go along on the investigation, clue by clue, as though you were there with Bosch and the attractive FBI agent he is temporarily partnered with.  It makes for a well done police procedural down a winding path where even the authorities grow more and more questionable.

The only thing that struck me as off was how quick his superiors were to be after Bosch when he was just doing his job, and doing it well.  Everyone was predisposed to think the worst of him.  Still that makes the reader appreciate how he weaves his way through it all.

It’s rather fun to read a book written twenty plus years ago.  The only thing that was very noticeable was the existence of  pay telephone booths and pagers, and the lack of cell phones.  It doesn’t get in the way of the story at all, but it’s odd when they have to stop to make a call.  No doubt in future books the phones will appear and improve their ability to communicate.  It will actually make the series more entertaining to see the developments in technology.  And I can see that I will be going through the series once again.  I’m already looking forward to book two, The Black Ice.

The Author

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1956, but he’s resided in Florida most of the time since age 12.  Was a crime beat reporter for the Daytona News, the Ft Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel, then west to the L.A. Time.  It was while there he sold his first novel.  He’s written many novels besides Harry’s.  His Mickey Haller series features a criminal defense attorney who happens to be Bosch’s half brother.  Mr. Connelly will occasionally bring the two of them together, along with other characters from different books.  It’s always a treat to see them interact.

You really can’t go wrong with Michael Connelly.  Personally I’m looking forward to the Mickey Haller series next.  Lincoln Lawyer is the first in that series and next on my list.

The Crossing

Mr Connelly’s upcoming novel is scheduled for release November 3, 2015.  Harry Bosch and his half brother, Mickey Haller are both featured in the new book.  Harry is retired, but Mickey is not.  He’s got a client he is certain is being framed.  He wants Harry’s help.  The problem is the answers may be inside the force.  He’s always had issues with his own department.  Once again he will be making himself a target.

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer is the first book in the Mickey Haller series.  This time instead of a police detective we have a criminal defense lawyer.  So far his cases have been small change, so he can be found working out of his Lincoln.  Then he gets his first big case.  It’s looking good until someone he knows is killed.  He finds himself on the murderer’s list.  It will be the ultimate test of his skills to survive this case.



Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry Citarella

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