Michael Connelly’s latest novel, The Black Box, does not disappoint. It is a classic Harry Bosch novel, but Connelly doesn’t get stuck in the same ol’ character rut that a lot of authors do when they’ve had such a long-term relationship with a series. Over the past twenty years, Bosch has aged and adapted to new situations. Somethings never change, of course. He still like his jazz music and he’s still the gruff investigator who doesn’t give up. But over the years change has happened. He’s become a father, which quickly escalated into being a single dad, he’s quit smoking, and he can actually move on from past relationships.
Of course there are some norms that appear. Harry still has an issue with bureaucratic authority, he still toes the line on appropriate police behavior—but hey, isn’t that why we love him? If he suddenly became placid and worked a desk job, readers would lose interest quickly.
The Black Box centers around the murder of Anneke Jespersen, a Danish war correspondent who was killed execution style during the 1992 L.A. Race Riots. Harry originally catches the case, but must leave it to others due to the turmoil in the city. Fast forward to 2012—the twentieth anniversary of the riots. The Open-Unsolved has been given a directive to focus on the murders from 1992 that were left unsolved. Harry, of course, takes the still-open Jespersen case.
This book involves murder, gang violence, conspiracies, rape, race, and, of course, an internal affairs (now labeled the Professional Standards Bureau) investigation. But there’s nothing too graphic for the faint at heart. Everything is woven together masterfully.
My only complaint is the nice pretty bow that wrapped up the ending. I won’t go into any detail, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But at the end, when the murder is solved there’s an “Oh by the way, this is why this other thing happened” sort of moment that seemed a bit lackluster when the story line seemed like it deserved more.
Over-all, The Black Box is a fun, engaging, and at times thoughtful story.
Side note: Connelly must like the color black. This is the 3rd novel with black in the title: The Black Echo (1992), The Black Ice (1993), and now The Black Box (2013)