Book: City of Bones

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City of Bones

Author: Michael Connelly
Publisher: Warner Books

When the bones of a 12-year-old boy are found scattered in the Hollywood Hills, Harry Bosch is drawn into a case that brings up the darkest memories from his own haunted past. The bones have been buried for years, but the cold case doesn’t deter Bosch. Unearthing hidden stories, he finds the child’s identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that he not be forgotten.

At the same time, a new love affair with a female cop begins to blossom for Bosch-until a stunningly blown mission leaves Bosch in more trouble that ever before in his turbulent career. The investigation races to a shocking conclusion and leaves Bosch on the brink of an unimaginable decision-one that will leave readers hungrily awaiting Michael Connelly’s next masterpiece.


Since his first appearance in 1992’s Edgar-winning The Black Echo, Detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch has joined Dennis Lehane’s Patrick and Angie, George Pelecanos’s Derek Strange, and Greg Rucka’s Atticus Kodiak in the pantheon of new-school hard-boiled detectives. Rather than giving Bosch a clever gimmick (like Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme, who is a quadriplegic), Michael Connelly embraces the noir archetype: Bosch, an L.A. homicide detective, is a chain-smoking loner who refuses to play by his superiors’ rules. Although he has quit smoking, Harry’s still the same tightlipped outsider, taking each crime as a personal affront as he tries to cleanse his beloved city of the darkness he sees engulfing it.

In City of Bones, Connelly’s eighth Bosch title, Bosch and his well-dressed partner, Jerry Edgar, are working to identify a child’s skeleton, buried for 20 years in the forest off Hollywood’s Wonderland Drive, and to bring the killer to belated justice. For Bosch this is more than just another homicide, as the mystery child, beaten and abandoned, comes to represent much of what he sees as evil in his city. Add in a tragic love affair with a fellow cop, complications from overzealous media, and the growing feeling that he’s fighting a losing battle about which no one cares, and the usually stoic Bosch is pushed to his limits. This isn’t the strongest plot Connelly has concocted for Bosch, but it leads to an ending the whole series has been building toward. The conclusion may not shock longtime fans, but it will leave them wondering where the series will go from here. —Benjamin Reese

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In A Darkness More than Night, Michael Connelly’s complex hero Harry Bosch shared center stage with another Connelly protagonist (Terry McCaleb of Blood Work) in a convoluted homicide case in which Bosch himself became a primary suspect. In City of Bones, Bosch takes the lead in the high-profile investigation of a murder committed more than 20 years in the past.

The investigation begins when a family pet unearths a cache of bones buried in a shallow grave in the hills above Laurel Canyon. Forensic evidence indicates that the bones are those of an adolescent boy who endured an extensive history of physical abuse. Bosch, who experienced his own share of adolescent trauma, takes the case to heart, pursuing every lead in the killing with typically obsessive zeal. Eventually, a phone call from a Los Angeles woman whose brother disappeared in 1980 sets Bosch on the proper path, and he identifies the dead boy as Arthur Delacroix. Locating Arthur’s killer, however, turns out to be a difficult—and hazardous—business. Bosch’s investigation leads to a number of dead ends and false conclusions before arriving at the sad, tawdry truth. Along the way, that same investigation claims two new victims: a solitary, rather pathetic set decorator who was once convicted of pedophilia, and an overzealous rookie policewoman with a lifelong penchant for high-risk activities.

Though some of the characters are not as well developed or convincing as they are in Connelly’s finest novels, such as The Black Echo and The Concrete Blonde, the central mystery in City of Bones is both compelling and affecting, and Connelly’s portrayal of life in the inner circles of the LAPD is as credible as ever. Bosch himself—that vulnerable, obsessive, sometimes self-destructive figure—remains one of modern crime fiction’s more durable creations. By the end of this particular investigation, Bosch has reached a turning point in his problematic 25-year career and faces a potentially life-altering decision. To be continued… —(Bill Sheehan)

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