By: Michael Connelly. #17 in Harry Bosch Series. Grade: B
Michael Connelly, a former journalist, is a master at mixing the realistic details of police work and legal procedures with excellent character detailing of his investigative protagonists. Back in 2009 I read The Closure which was his eleventh book in the Harry Bosch series, and became his diehard fan. Now, in 2012 I got my hands on The Drop, his seventeenth book in the same series, and couldn’t wait to get started.
Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two.
DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he an eight-year-old killer or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? The latter possibility could compromise all of the lab’s DNA cases currently in court.
Then Bosch and his partner are called to a death scene fraught with internal politics. Councilman Irvin Irving’s son jumped or was pushed from a window at the Chateau Marmont. Irving, Bosch’s longtime nemesis, has demanded that Harry handle the investigation.
Relentlessly pursuing both cases, Bosch makes two chilling discoveries: a killer operating unknown in the city for as many as three decades, and a political conspiracy that goes back into the dark history of the police department.
In typical Connelly way, without giving much of the plot, the story proceeds with Detective Bosch being assigned seemingly two unrelated cases at once. The first case leads them to Clayton Pell, a sex-offender, whose DNA evidence was found on the victim’s body. But as they investigate further, they find that when the crime took place, Pell was just eight years old. Before Bosch can go further, he is assigned another case, that of Councilman Irving’s son, who was found dead on a hotel’s sidewalk. When Councilman orders LAPD to call Bosch for the investigation, Harry is immediately anxious because their personal rapport is not all that great.
The title The Drop has two meanings: the first can refer to the suicide of Councilman’s son and the other to Deferred Retirement Option Plan, that is 39 months for Harry.
In The Drop, Connelly continues his legendary writing style of letting readers know about the case first, then about an obvious suspect who seems perfect for the job. Later during the investigation, other characters join and make the case more and more complicated. This plot line works well, except for the fact that The Drop suffers from an acute lack of depth in its characters. Except for Harry Bosch, I found most characters being stuffed in the story. Bosch’s daughter, fifteen year old Maddie, somewhere added a bit of interest, but only in her hopes of joining LAPD as a detective and inheriting the legacy of Bosch. I read somewhere that the author has decided to end the Harry Bosch series soon and probably that’s the reason why he showed this softer side of Bosch. He presented him as a sincere father of a teenage girl and showed his inclination towards a middle aged woman, Dr. Stone. We see that Bosch has clearly grown older and ornery.
Connelly’s language lost its edge this time; it engaged me but failed to evoke the cerebral investigation feel. There are twists and surprises but almost all are predictable. For me, the reading experience was more of reading two short stories somehow enmeshed solely for the purpose of making a four hundred forty eight page novel. With two such strong cases, Connelly could have written two distinct standalone novels. Dialogues are not strong and felt extremely flat. He maintained the pace of story by introducing different angles of investigation and characters, but there are no events to support his attempt. In chapter #31, I almost believed that there is nothing more to read because there are multiple shadow endings. We see how the suspense was built throughout the book and at the climax successfully evoked the grave serious message of battling with the darker side of the world.
To sum up, Connelly is undoubtedly skilled but The Drop failed to meet my expectations. The only point of recommendation would be that despite being the seventeenth book in a series, one can read it without wondering about any inexplicable flashback.