Book Review: The Crossing by Michael Connelly

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The Crossing is another solid effort from Michael Connelly and even though Harry Bosch has now retired from the LAPD (yeah, we’ve heard that before), it still seems a bit same-same.

It’s six months since the last Bosch novel and Harry has resigned after his suspension without pay at the end of the last book. He’s currently suing the department for forcing him out, hiring his half-brother, Mickey Haller, to pursue the case. In the meantime, Mickey wants him to investigate a murder while his usual investigator recuperates from a motorbike accident.

Harry is reluctant, equating it with crossing over to the dark side. He worries what his former colleagues will think of him but he agrees to do a preliminary review of the evidence before deciding whether or not to come on board. Of course, he comes on board. There’s no story if he doesn’t come on board. That’s evident very early on as Harry tries to settle into retirement and his one and only retirement project, restoring an old Harley Davidson. Tries but fails.

The case is the brutal murder of Alexandra Parks, raped and beaten to death in her own bed. DNA discovered at the scene is determined to belong to Da’Quan Foster but DQ’s alibi, that he was visiting a male prostitute, seems to make him an unlikely candidate as the guilty party.

The story is a little unusual for Bosch, in that where he would normally pick up a case and start from scratch, here he is reviewing the evidence put together by other detectives and looking for the holes, the things they’ve missed. He feels a sense of guilt. Considering how many holes he finds, you would think he would feel a sense of superiority.

Bosch doesn’t have a partner anymore, which makes him seem grumpier than ever. I miss him having someone to bounce off and keep him moderately in check. And not being a police officer means he has to find some creative ways to get evidence and convince witnesses to speak to him. I think he’d be surprised by how much further being a bit nicer to people would get him.

Bosch’s daughter Maddie appears to have undergone a personality change in the six months since the last book. She’s moody, argumentative, judgemental and possibly in the early stages of an eating disorder. Considering she was such as well-adjusted teenager in The Burning Room, her complete 180 appears unfounded. And Mickey Haller, as seen from Bosch’s perspective, is not all that pretty.

If I had the option, I’d give this book 3.5 stars because it’s an improvement on The Burning Room. Harry has rediscovered some of his lost purpose, the mystery is better and there’s a sense of urgency that was completely lacking while he worked in the Open Unsolved Unit. But the villains are simple and a little simple-minded, and we know who they are from the very first chapter. In fact, the villains are the focus of several of the chapters. It was an interesting choice by Connelly, one that I don’t think worked. And I can’t remember him ever giving over so many chapters to the villains’ perspective before.

On a side note, Connelly used to be better at weaving real-life bits and pieces into his stories but in Chapter 4 he takes a very obvious pot shot at the former Californian Governor and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (without actually naming him), about using his authority to provide executive clemency to a political ally’s son, who was convicted of killing a man. The pot shot is over a page long and I actually stopped reading the book and Googled the anecdote to see if it was true or part of the plot. It was true. I agree with Connelly that it hardly paints Schwarzenegger in a good light but it was so poorly done on Connelly’s part that it loses its power. And instead of being angry with Schwarzenegger, I am angry with Connelly for including such disruptive paragraphs. If he were anyone else, I doubt his editors would have let it through because it completely throws the reader off and actually has nothing to do with the story.

But if you’re a Bosch fan and a Connelly fan, The Crossing won’t disappoint. It won’t amaze you either, but it won’t disappoint. But I’m kind of hanging out for an effort from Connelly that completely blows my mind. It feels like it’s been a while.

3 stars

*First published on Goodreads 2 January 2016

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