A Darkness More Than Night
|Publisher:||Little Brown and Company|
Terrence McCaleb is asked by the LAPD to help them investigate a series of murders that have them baffled. They are the kind of ritualized killings that McCaleb specialized in solving with the FBI, and he is reluctantly drawn from his peaceful new life back into the horror and excitement of tracking down a terrifying homicidal maniac. More horrifying still, the suspect who seems to fit the profile that McCaleb develops is someone he has known and worked with in the past: Detective Harry Bosch.
A Darkness More Than Night is a fresh and lightning-paced excursion into the dark side of Los Angeles and the hidden corners of the human heart, by a writer hailed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top rank of a new generation of crime writers.
When a sheriff’s detective shows up on former FBI man Terry McCaleb’s Catalina Island doorstep and requests his help in analyzing photographs of a crime scene, McCaleb at first demurs. He’s newly married (to Graciela, who herself dragged him from retirement into a case in Blood Work), has a new baby daughter, and is finally strong again after a heart transplant. But once a bloodhound, always a bloodhound. One look at the video of Edward Gunn’s trussed and strangled body puts McCaleb back on the investigative trail, hooked by two details: the small statue of an owl that watches over the murder scene and the Latin words “Cave Cave Dus Videt,” meaning “Beware, beware, God sees,” on the tape binding the victim’s mouth.
Gunn was a small-time criminal who had been questioned repeatedly by LAPD Detective Harry Bosch in the unsolved murder of a prostitute, most recently on the night he was killed. McCaleb knows the tense, cranky Bosch (Michael Connelly’s series star—see The Black Echo, The Black Ice, et al.) and decides to start by talking to him. But Bosch has time only for a brief chat. He’s a prosecution witness in the high-profile trial of David Storey, a film director accused of killing a young actress during rough sex. By chance, however, McCaleb discovers an abstruse but concrete link between the scene of Gunn’s murder and Harry Bosch’s name:
“This last guy’s work is supposedly replete with owls all over the place. I can’t pronounce his first name. It’s spelled H-I-E-R-O-N-Y-M-U-S. He was Netherlandish, part of the northern renaissance. I guess owls were big up there.”
McCaleb looked at the paper in front of him. The name she had just spelled seemed familiar to him.
“You forgot his last name. What’s his last name?”
“Oh, sorry. It’s Bosch. Like the spark plugs.”
Bosch fits McCaleb’s profile of the killer, and McCaleb is both thunderstruck and afraid—thunderstruck that a cop he respects might have committed a horrendous murder and afraid that Bosch may just be good enough to get away with it. And when Bosch finds out (via a mysterious leak to tabloid reporter Jack McEvoy, late of Connelly’s The Poet) that he’s being investigated for murder, he’s furious, knowing that Storey’s defense attorney may use the information to help get his extravagantly guilty client off scot-free.
It’s the kind of plot that used to make great Westerns: two old gunslingers circling each other warily, each of them wondering if the other’s gone bad. But there’s more than one black hat in them thar hills, and Connelly masterfully joins the plot lines in a climax and denouement that will leave readers gasping but satisfied. —Barrie Trinkle
Barnes and Noble
Independent elements from several earlier books come seamlessly together in Michael Connelly’s ingenious, compelling novel, A Darkness More than Night. This one features both Terry McCaleb, last seen in the Edgar-nominated Blood Work, and Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch, the haunted hero of several of Connelly’s finest novels. The lives of these two damaged, all-too-human figures intersect in a typically extravagant story that is at once a murder mystery, a legal thriller, and a psychological drama of considerable subtlety and power.
The novel begins when McCaleb, an FBI profiler forced into retirement following a successful heart transplant, agrees to lend his expertise to a particularly baffling murder investigation. The victim is Edward Gunn, an alcoholic lowlife with a violent past. He was once arrested—by Harry Bosch—for the murder of a Los Angeles prostitute but managed, despite Harry’s best efforts, to avoid prosecution. McCaleb’s analysis of the crime scene reveals a number of anomalies: an unexplained head wound, a phrase (“Beware,
beware, God sees”) written in medieval Latin, the replica of an owl placed in the vicinity of the corpse. Following his instincts, McCaleb locates mirror images of these arcane clues in a number of paintings by Harry’s namesake, the 15th-century Dutch master, Hieronymous Bosch.
Harry, meanwhile, is serving as chief investigator and star witness in the sensational murder trial of a world-famous Hollywood director and has no idea that he’s just become the primary suspect in an unrelated investigation. As the trial progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Harry’s testimony is critically important and that any attempt to destroy his credibility will undermine the case against a vicious, well-connected killer.
Eventually, Harry learns about McCaleb’s suspicions and forces a confrontation. McCaleb takes a second look at the accumulated evidence and begins to discern the outlines of a very different scenario. As new revelations come gradually into view, the disparate elements of the novel coalesce, and the narrative moves with increasing urgency toward a violent, thoroughly satisfying conclusion.
Connelly is only a moderately gifted stylist, but he is a devious, resourceful plotter and a world-class storyteller. His new book generates the kind of irresistible momentum that very few novelists ever manage to achieve. At the same time, it offers empathetic portraits of two memorably complex protagonists with more than their share of ghosts, griefs, and personal demons to contend with. A Darkness More than Night is an intelligent, compassionate, unfailingly entertaining thriller. It deserves the success it is doubtless about to achieve. —Bill Sheehan