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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch #4) by Michael Connelly

I finished The Last Coyote about 2:30 this morning. It would have been impossible for me to get to sleep while this story was unresolved. When a book keeps you up into the wee hours of the night, it's a good book.

I realized at the end of book three, The Concrete Blonde, that Harry was about to have to do some soul searching, that it was time for him to deal with some of his baggage. I was right.

As of now, after reading books fourteen, one, two, three, and four - The Last Coyote is my least favorite book. That doesn't mean it's not necessary, it doesn't mean you should skip it. I think it's a very important book as far as Harry as a character is concerned. But it's also an emotionally difficult book to read at times. It's my least favorite because of the difficult stuff, the painful stuff. But only a skilled author can make you care enough about a character to get you to read the tough stuff and pull for him to work through it. Right?

Here is the blurb for The Last Coyote:

Michael Connelly's fourth novel cuts to the very core of Harry Bosch's character, as he is drawn to investigate a thirty-year-old unsolved crime: the murder of his mother.

Harry's life is a mess. His house has been condemned because of earthquake damage. His girlfriend has left him. He's drinking too much. And he's even had to turn in his badge: he attacked his commanding officer and is suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation.

At first Bosch, resists the LAPD shrink, but finally he recognizes that something is troubling him, a force that may have shaped his entire life. In 1961, when Harry was eleven, his mother was brutally murdered. No one was ever even accused of the crime.

Harry opens up the decades-old file on the case and is irresistibly drawn into a past he has always avoided. It's clear that the case was fumbled. His mother was a prostitute, and even thirty years late the smell of a cover-up is unmistakable. Someone powerful was able to keep the investigating officers away from key suspects. Even as he confronts his own shame about his mother, Harry relentlessly follows up the old evidence, seeking justice or at least understanding. Out of the broken pieces of the case he discerns a trail that leads upward, toward prominent people who lead public lives high in the Hollywood hills. And as he nears his answer, Harry finds that ancient passions don't die. They cause new murders even today.

So far, each of the titles has represented more than one thing. The Black Echo was primarily what the tunnels in Vietnam were called, but the phrase was used to describe a few other things as well. The Black Ice was both the drug and the stuff on the road. The Concrete Blonde was the blond woman found encased in concrete and was also the statue of Justice outside the courtroom. And The Last Coyote? It represents the animal(s) Bosch sees around his house, but it also represents Bosch.

But enough of the character development stuff, let us talk plot.

Bosch is finally investigating his mother's death. Talk about a cold case, right? The Last Coyote doesn't weave multiple plots together as much as previous books, but it doesn't have to. Between Bosch's soul searching, the drama going on with Bosch's house and job, and the drama that the case gives us, multiple plots would have been too much. There is a lot going on in this book, and it all works together. Pacing is good, action and intrigue and dialogue are excellent, and the writing is still mesmerizing at times. The single plot all by itself gets pretty involved, and part of me wonders how much of this came from Michael Connelly's imagination and how much of it may have come from his investigative reporting. I couldn't have come up with this plot, but I also haven't investigated a lot of true crimes, either. I realize it's a fictional book, but something about it just felt like... I don't know... the phrase "truth is stranger than fiction" comes to mind. It felt like maybe the idea of this possibly came from something real somewhere. I guess that's probably the case for most authors, this one just felt... more. Perhaps that's just the skill of the author, I don't know.

However, I guessed the killer very early on in the book. There were plenty of other things I did not guess, though. Enough things came at me out of left field that I wasn't frustrated by seeing something Harry wasn't seeing, because there was enough going on that I forgave him for not seeing it sooner. And there was still at least one big surprise near the end, so I'm okay with guessing this one.

When I finished the book last night (well, this morning) my initial reaction was that this book was a 9, not a 10. But after further consideration this morning, I think it is still a 10. The writing was excellent, the plot was very well done, and the emotional stuff was handled well. Plus, there is that little tidbit about my not being able to put it down and go to sleep until it was finished. Only a really good book can do that.

Book Rating, The Last Coyote: 10 of 10
Series Rating, Harry Bosch: 10 of 10

1. The Black Echo (1992)
2. The Black Ice (Harry Bosch) (1993)
3. The Concrete Blonde (1994)
4. The Last Coyote (1995)
5. Trunk Music (1997)
6. Angels Flight (1999)
7. A Darkness More Than Night (2001)
8. City of Bones (2002)
9. Lost Light (2003)
10 The Narrows (2004)
11. The Closers (2005)
12. Echo Park (2006)
13. The Overlook (2007)
14. The Brass Verdict (2008)
15. Nine Dragons (Coming October 2009)

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