The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Suggested by Brad Nelson • Two cases confront Harry Bosch. As a part-time detective in the SFPD, he’s after a serial rapists. As a private investigator, he’s been hired by a billionaire to track down an old flame. Nineteenth in the series of 21, the series shows no signs of getting old.
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41 Responses to The Wrong Side of Goodbye

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There once was an LA detective
    Whose methods were always effective
    But good golly gosh
    It’s Hieronymus Bosch
    For boredom he is the corrective

    This is a pretty good no-nonsense page-turner. We’re not deluged with non-stop plot twists. The novel has a pleasing realism to it.

    It’s one primary fault is the virtue-signaling and political correctness. Given that these novels are written around and in Los Angeles, the local gods of homosexuality and illegal immigration must be bowed to. As with Rome, even if you don’t believe in them, you were expected to give them at least token respect. Connelly does that and more

    It gets a bit obnoxious. But other than that, and a somewhat lack-luster ending, this is a fun read.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      If he’s actually named Hieronymus Bosch (the same as the late medieval artist of “The Garden of Earthly Delights”), there must be something interesting to make of that. Especially for something set in LA or SF or both. Of course, Bosch was also good at showing where these delights could lead in the end.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        If he’s actually named Hieronymus Bosch (the same as the late medieval artist of “The Garden of Earthly Delights”), there must be something interesting to make of that.

        In this book, he mentions to someone that this mother gave him that name and that she was a bit “out there.” I don’t remember if the TV series gave an explanation for the name. Was his mother an artist? Was her favorite painter Hieronymus Bosch? It surely takes this up in one of the early novels….you would think. Here’s a nice example of his work. It looks as if he was a religiously apocalyptic sort of guy. As you say, he paints where many of these people in LA could end up. That site mentions that only 25 of his works survive.

        One site notes this about his name:

        Hieronymus Bosch, born Jeroen Anthonissen van Aken was born Jheronimus (or Jeroen) van Aken (meaning “from Aachen”). He signed a number of his paintings as Bosch (pronounced Boss in Dutch). The name derives from his birthplace, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is commonly called “Den Bosch”.

        In the TV series, he’s definitely called “Bosch” as rhymes with “posh.”

        One of the fun things to do is to follow along with Bosch’s music suggestions. He mentions a couple of jazz artists in The Wrong Side of Goodbye. I’m only now getting a little into jazz, thanks to my ongoing 3-month free trial of Apple Music which puts a gazillion songs at your disposal.

        Bosch first mentions Christian Scott’s album Anthem. He was particularly praiseful of the opening track, “Litany Against Fear.” I also sample a couple of his other album on Apple Music. But none caught my ear like this one which I added to my library.

        He mentions a couple more artists/albums that I tried and liked as well. He likes a good piece of jazz on when sifting through murder books and such at home. He mentions Horace Tapscott in connection with an Officer Tapscott he met while on a case. He wondered if they were related. I listened to Tapscott’s Thoughts Of Dar Es Salaam and liked it. Wiki says that Dar es Sallam is the former capital as well as the most populous city in Tanzania. It’s located on the Swahili coast.

        I’ve just started book #18 in the series, The Crossing. In it (and I’m not very far into it) Bosch also mentions some artists including some collaborative works by Ron Carter and Houston Person. I listened to their Chemistry and liked it. At this moment I’m listening to their Now’s the Time/Something in Common. I can see where this would be soft, quiet music to have on in the background after a day of stressfully working with deadbeats, scumbags, rapists, petty thieves, and murderers — not to mention the many asshole officials and cops that Bosch runs into in a normal day.

        I must say, it’s a fun experience to listen to this music while reading the book. And I have no idea why these type of electronic books don’t give you links right to the music. I don’t know why there aren’t embedded links to many of the places mentioned. Isn’t that what digital is good for? I commonly will take a look at the locations described by Bosch via Google Maps. It gives you a sense for the place, especially the strange and wild place known as Chicano Park. An embedded link in the book would make this much easier.

        It’s not to Connolly’s credit that he wallpapers over the racist and separatist aspect of much of this art in Chicano Park. But Connolly seems to be another white person living in California who feels he must pay for his skin color by overlooking all this nonsense and interpreting it as wholesome and good. In at least these later novels, it’s clear he’s picked up the theme that “a white guy always does it.” I’m very early into The Crossing but already this has popped up. A couple Joses (literally, Jose Sr. and Jose Jr.) are murdered in their apothecary shop. Surveillance cameras show a couple of men covered with masks and gloves. But one of the cameras catches a bit of skin between the glove and the sleeve in one of the shots. Of course the skin color is white.

        The Wrong Side of Goodbye has some similar nonsense.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I had started on #18, “The Crossing,” and decided it would be better to read the novel following “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” They have at least eight books available via the Libby app so no shortage of reading material if I go on a Bosch-a-thon.

    Two Kinds of Truth is #20 in the series and very contemporary (2017). There is passing mention of the desire to impeach Trump, for example.

    As with “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” Bosch is involved in two cases. This time both are police cases. One is chasing down the murderers of a father/son team who owned and ran an apothecary. The other is about an old conviction of Harry’s where supposedly new evidence has come up which could release a killer (and besmirch Harry’s reputation as well).

    I’m 80% into it and I think this one is actually better than #19. I won’t give anything major away, but we do see a return of J. Edgar. Apparently he and Bosch had parted as partners years ago and had lost touch. It had mentioned that J. Edgar had never even met his daughter, Maddie. The TV series therefore has to be some kind of composite of the novels because J. Edgar and Maddie are both a central part of the show.

    Bosch continues with has part-time pro bono work at the San Fernando Police Department. Generally everyone hates Bosch because of the corrupt officers he has confronted in his past and who go out of their way to smear him. But once the SFPD officers get to know him, they soften their opinion. In fact, in one scene, Bosch is copiously complimented by an officer….something Bosch notes has never happened before.

    But it’s not all touchy-feely because Bosch still has many in the LAPD who hate his guts. I’ll report back how this novel ends and see how it holds up, although one of the story lines has ended already with a satisfactory conclusion. Now to find out if Bosch’s reputation (and his ambulance-chasing lawyer half-brother, Mickey Haller) work out.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Oh. San Fernando. When you initially referred to the SFPD, I thought it was San Francisco (Harry Callahan’s old bailiwick).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Bosch specifically will use the acronym, “SFPD,” when making calls to other agencies and departments when trying to track down information. He figures most will think he’s a cop from San Francisco. And he supposes few will give much credence to a cop from San Fernando.

        This leads to perhaps the best aspect of these novels: Am much as I might like Sam Spade (especially when played by Bogart), real detective work obviously involves a lot of sifting through data, making phones calls, and various forms of drudgery. I think Connelly does an excellent job of giving a realistic view of what a real investigation likely looks like.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Note that Nero Wolfe would disdain this sort of work and let the NYPD (Inspector Cramer and his not-so-merry men) do it because they had the manpower to do so. This way Rex Stout would show his awareness of what so much police work (and work for private detectives as well) amounted to without having to risk boring the readers with it.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Obviously you don’t read four or five pages of Bosch methodically sifting through reams of data or making several dozen phone calls trying to track down a lead. But you do get precise information describing the types of things a detective has to do and how long it takes him to do them.

            There’s a place for the more romantic adventures of the private eye or detective. But the inserted realism of the Bosch books makes them somewhat educational as well. In fact, you can tell that Connelly is in love with at least two things: Jazz music and the various sites, sounds, and restaurants of the whole Los Angeles Basin.

            I’ve had all kinds of fun referring to Wiki and Google Maps searching for the locations he mentions, including Salvation Mountain. (Google Map image here.) What a garish, hippie-esque thing. But it’s cool in it’s own way. Given that the entire idea of Jesus (even the multi-colored psychedelic one) is now all but an outlawed idea in California, I kind of like it from that standpoint. It’s a big thumb in the nose of these atheist assholes even if it was never intended as such.

            By the way, I finished “Two Kinds of Truth” last night. The other plot line finished satisfyingly enough. I’m not sure if I can do 3 books in a row. I think I’d be wearing it out. But I could come back later and explore another one. But certainly these two books I can recommend. One might suppose the earlier ones are even better.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I did start reading another Bosch novel last night: The Burning Room.

    I’m 22% into it and this is a bit dull compared to the other two. Number 17 in the series, Bosch is still working for the LAPD. He’s just joined a cold case unit. His first case is a high-profile one. A mariachi musician has (after 10 years) succumbed to his wound from an apparent drive-by shooting.

    This new cold-case unit must have a “magic bullet” in order to proceed:

    The Open-Unsolved Unit followed a protocol when it came to investigating cold cases. It relied upon new evidence as the criteria for reengagement. That new evidence usually came from the application of recent advances in forensic sciences to old cases and the establishment of national databases to track criminals through DNA, ballistics, and fingerprints. These were the big three. The magic bullets. Without a hit on one of these databases, a case would be considered not viable and routinely returned to the archives.

    They did an autopsy on the musician who just recently died. The coroner called the death a consequence of the bullet so therefore it was a murder case. The medical examiner dug the bullet out of the spine of the skeleton but there’s no match with any other gun in the national database.

    That’s when the case supposedly should have been turned over to someone else or put back on the shelf. But a former mayor, who had made much public use of the shooting victim on the campaign trail (while he was alive), is now shooting for the governor’s office. He’s made this a cause célèbre so Bosch and his rookie partner will trudge on.

    One suspects this will not be a gang shooting but something that connects higher up. We’ll see. I still find Connelly’s political correctness to be annoying.. Perhaps he’s just stupid. I mean, yes, it’s nice that he notes that his partner was a benefit to the department because she was a twofer (both a woman and Hispanic). But then he says that it’s a well-known fact that many subversive types slipped into the LAPD when they lowered their standards. And why did they lower their standards? Connelly writes it was because there was a shortage of officers.

    That may have been the case. But there’s no mention of affirmative action being the reason for lowered standards. I mean, it’s just a little of this garbage here and there. You can drive past it. But it’s kind of lame. It ruins the sense of Bosch being a hard-nosed realist when PC words and ideas are simply stuffed into his mouth.

    I’ve read a review that says there is no proper conclusion to this story and it’s left as a cliffhanger. I may just stop here then. I found the winding-up of the case to be interesting enough. But I can sort of see where this might be going. Nowhere. One reviewer writes:

    I have now read all of Michael Connelly’s novels. I’m a fan and consider the author one of the best living crime writers so I’m sad to report that The Burning Room is his worst book. For almost 3/4 of the novel the characterization and dialogue are flat. Good thing I knew Bosch from the previous 18 novels because he is completely colorless throughout this book. He has a new partner, young, female, Hispanic, heroine of a shoot-out (which takes place before this story), and an injured party of a cold crime now under re-investigation. Nevertheless, her dialogue is just a dull as Harry’s and her sole purpose seems to be as foil for Bosch to bounce theories off of and vice versa. Bosch’s extremely well- behaved teen-aged daughter also appears in the story. Will he get home in time to say good night? Who will make dinner and what are they having?

    I can’t disagree with any of that.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The more of Connelly’s books you review, the more I am inclined to give him a pass.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I do highly recommend the two books that I’ve finished. And one has to admit it’s nearly impossible to conceive of a California writer not including some of this stuff. It’s the world they live in. There’s also an aspect too of “Seeing how the other half libtard.”

        But I do get annoyed at the normalization of illegal aliens. California culture is now so thoroughly Mexican, even if the Left didn’t require this to be seen as normal and good, I can see where there is little choice now for the average Californian but just to accept it as the status quo.

        Bosch himself is a virtuous public official….the kind you wish everyone was. He’s just an all-around great guy. But the intermittent apologies for lawlessness and gender politics grates on the ear from time to time.

        I just tell it like it is. I recommend the two books I’ve read but neither am I going to soft-peddle some of the nonsense and pretend it doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t want you to be put off them.

        And surely these days it’s an unreasonable expectation that there isn’t going to be some of this nonsense spread around even the finest things. I still can’t get over Rush Limbaugh paying Elton John a million dollars to perform at his wedding. Wouldn’t a conservative have given that to some veteran’s musician group or something? It just shows you how wafer-thin conservatism is. It’s the liberal ladies to whom most men conform their behavior to.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I did finish The Burning Room. It got better. And to leave it incomplete was like not following through on a case. I had to see it out. It’s what Harry would do.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I finished my 4th Bosch book the other day: The Crossing.

    “The Crossing” refers to Bosch, newly retired, taking on a job as a detective for his defense-council brother who is defending a guy charged with a brutal murder. I guess cops don’t generally do this — cross sides. It’s frowned upon and Bosch is looked on as a traitor by the cops.

    I found this to be an excellent nuts-and-bolts book about following a trail of clues to the destination. The virtue signaling was at a minimum in this one (although there was one passage that caused my eyes to spin in their sockets).

    But unlike the recent book I read where Bosch was partnered with a Super Woman Hispanic Partner (which got a bit too much at times), this is Bosch mostly on his own. No partner….other than his brother, the lawyer. I won’t give anything away, but I thought the bad guys were particularly bad and without much reason given for it. But one just supposes that such people do exist somewhere and therefore you go with it.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I finished “The Black Ice” last night and liked the book overall. This is one of Connelly’s early Bosch books so there was some background info on Bosch’s life and family, or lack thereof.

    The story revolves around the apparent suicide of one cop and murders of several other people. It becomes apparent that a new powerful drug “Black Ice” is at the core of these murders and Bosch, being Bosch, will not allow the higher-ups in the department ignore the facts.

    The story focuses on Bosch and the apparent suicide one Calexico Moore. Why would a cop commit suicide, did he in fact do it? These and other questions are explored while Bosch gets into trouble in L.A. and Mexicali.

    I can recommend this book.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The second Bosch book I have read, “The Concrete Blond” is the third in the Bosch series. It takes place about one year after “The Black Ice.”

    The story revolves around the case of a serial killer who Bosch shot several years before. The killer’s wife is now suing Bosch for wrongful death although the LAPD found ample evidence to prove that Bosch shot the right man, or so they think until a new body turns up during the trial. This makes Bosch wonder whether he got the right man, or if there is a copy cat out there. In fact, it is more complicated.

    The book lays out two major stories which intertwine.

    There is the trial with the bitchy trial lawyer going after Bosch and the LAPD. She has righteous anger because of the LAPD history of abusing minorities. (The book was written shortly after the Rodney King episode and riots which followed) and clearly believes Bosch and the LAPD made up evidence to prove that the man Bosch shot was the serial killer.

    Then there is the discovery of a new victim which was killed after the death of the original serial killer. Bosch’s trial could complicate things and give the new killer too much inside information regarding the state of the new investigation.

    In between, Bosch has to navigate his relationship with Sylvia who came into his life during “The Black Ice.” Life is complicated.

    Like “The Black Ice,” this new book is well written with no silly episodes or Deux ex Machina moments. The story is plausible and the way it unfolds makes sense.

    It shows that Connelly was a reporter for a number of years. He clearly has a good grasp on the working of the police bureaucracy as well as the lives of cops who deal with the problems served up by our civilization. Once again, I can recommend this book.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think I remember this plot form the TV series. Glad you liked it. I’m still working my way through my 5th Bosch book, “The Black Box. I’m 49% into it.

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “The Black Echo” is the first in Connelly’s series of Harry Bosch novels. It takes place around 1990 in Los Angeles where Bosch works as a homicide detective in the Hollywood police office. This is a come-down from his previous position with the Robbery-Homicide Division at the main L.A.P.D. building.

    Bosch has been banished to Hollywood, ostensibly for his part in the shooting of a serial killer. Bosch shot the man after the killer started to pull something from beneath a pillow. Bosch thought it was a gun, but it was a toupee. But the true underlying reason he was moved is the deputy police chief, Irving, does not see a team player in Bosch and would like to chase him out of the L.A.P.D.

    One night Bosch is called to a death scene at the Hollywood Reservoir. A body has been found in a large diameter pipe, and the death looks like just another drug overdose. Bosch notes too many inconsistencies and wants to look into the case a little more deeply before writing it off.

    Before leaving the scene, Bosch has a closer look at the dead man and is surprised to note that he knew him. Both the dead man (Meadows) and Bosch had served together in Vietnam as “tunnel rats” i.e soldiers who went into the many tunnels which the NVA and Vietcong had dug in villages across the south of Vietnam where they could disappear and live for long periods of time.

    Once Harry starts digging, he finds that Meadows is connected to an earlier heist in which a team broke into the safety deposit vault of a bank and cleaned out most the valuables deposited. Harry then contacts the FBI to see what can be found out, but receives less than a fulsome welcome by agent Rourke and his subordinate agent Wish, who happens to be a good looking woman in her thirties.

    The rest of the book details how Bosch works to solve Meadow’s death, which leads Bosch into some very strange places.

    As it is the first of the series, the reader learns much of Bosch’s background, including the fact that he is the illegitimate son of a Los Angeles whore who died when Harry was 11 years old. Harry’s time in Vietnam is touched on as are his early days in the L.A.P.D. where he earned the reputation as being someone who has a talent for solving serial killer cases.

    As in the other Bosch books, the crimes are plausible. But I must say that I thought the complexity of the case a little too cute. Some of the twists and turns were, while possible, very unlikely. One thing which I found irritating in all three Bosch books, which I have read, was the amount of time which Connelly spends on Bosch’s smoking habit. I understand the author wants to demonstrate a couple of Bosch’s personal characteristics with the way he handles it, but I found it was simply overdone. One doesn’t have to describe Bosch lighting up a cigarette on every other page to make the point. That being said, I did enjoy reading the book and can recommend it for anyone who likes to take a few hours off for easy reading.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I remember reading an article in Reader’s Digest about the tunnel rats in the mid-60s. The people who did that — repeatedly — had to be exceptionally brave. There was no way to know what or who they would encounter, including someone setting a trap for them. Of course, as Bill Mauldin showed in a very interesting section of Up Front, front-line infantry work is always that way. But some jobs more than others.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As it is the first of the series, the reader learns much of Bosch’s background, including the fact that he is the illegitimate son of a Los Angeles whore who died when Harry was 11 years old. Harry’s time in Vietnam is touched on as are his early days in the L.A.P.D. where he earned the reputation as being someone who has a talent for solving serial killer cases.

    Definitely the TV series makes much of his mother. In fact, she is part of a main ongoing thread in his investigations for at least a season.

    There are numerous references to Bosch being a tunnel rat in the latter novels. And his daughter really is as bratty, superficial, and annoying as portrayed in the TV series. But I don’t remember if he was seated at dinner with his daughter or one of his lady friends. But one of these girls asked Bosch why he wouldn’t eat Chinese food (or Asian food…whatever).

    Bosch then gives a very nitty-gritty reason for it which stems from his time as a tunnel rat in Vietnam. He said that in order to do that work, he had to smell like them. And that meant eating the same food. But now such food has a bad connotation for him.

    In the novel I’m reading right now, Bosch delves into some of his early history when his daughter asks him why he joined the police force. He says the safe, public answer would be “to protect and serve.” But he says, because you’re my daughter, I can tell you the real answer.

    And then he reminisces about going to a community college right after getting out of the service. He had a girlfriend at college but was afraid to tell her off his past because all these libtards (my words…Connelly still won’t dare to name names) think of Vietnam vets as baby-killers.

    Well, at some point he does tell her and then she immediately drops him. Just walks away that very moment. Connelly at least does give us an insight into the toxic California university culture. So Bosch tells his daughter that he knew the police tended to be full of ex-vets so it was the one place he know he could be among friends.

    I do believe in these latter books that Bosch has given up cigarettes.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Bosch then gives a very nitty-gritty reason for it which stems from his time as a tunnel rat in Vietnam. He said that in order to do that work, he had to smell like them. And that meant eating the same food. But now such food has a bad connotation for him.

      I think it was in “The Black Echo,” when Vietnamese food is brought up and Bosch reflects that he hadn’t eaten any since he left Vietnam some 20 years earlier and didn’t particularly want to eat it now.

      As to the smell thing, I can attest that it is true. Asians have told me that Westerners smell like meat or dairy products. I can personally confirm that Chinese and Southeast Asians smell different from Westerners. They have a somewhat sour smell when sweating. The Japanese are different. They don’t stink like Chinese or Westerners.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        As I believe I’ve mentioned before, Tiger Tanaka tells Bond in the novel You Only Live Twice that whites smell like sour pork.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I just finished my fifth Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box. This is probably the fifth best I’ve read so far (out of five) but it was still mostly satisfying. It just didn’t have the twists and turn in it. It seemed to run a little long. And there was no resolution to the conflict with his lieutenant. Nor do I remember any resolution in the subsequent novel (which I have read), “The Burning Room.”

    In brief, this is about investigating a twenty-year-old murder that happened during the LA riots if ’92 and the murder of a Danish blonde journalist. I know that’s a two-fer in terms of virtue signaling. Woman. Journalist. It might even be a three-fer because she’s European. However, deduct one “fer” because apparently she was pretty.

    In short, when fishing around for intriguing Bosch novels, leave this toward the end if you still hunger for more Bosch. Bosch is good in this. It’s just that the story is a little bland.

    Up next will either be the first in the Lincoln Lawyer series (“The Lincoln Lawyer,”), “Echo Park” (a middle book in the Bosch series), or “The Brass Verdict” (which is a twofer with both Bosch and his half-brother, the lawyer, Michael Haller, of the “Lincoln Lawyer” series of books — #2 in the series, in this case).

    I’m leaning toward “The Brass Verdict.” “Echo Park” may have already been covered in the Bosch TV series and it just sounds too much like the one I just read. I could read the first in the Lincoln Lawyer series, “The Lincoln Lawyer,” but that doesn’t include Detective Bosch. Still, the reviews on this one are good. Maybe I should read them in order.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I just finished The Lincoln Lawyer, the first of the (so far) five-book Mickey Haller “Lincoln Lawyer” series. Haller is the half brother of Bosch and appears in at least four Bosch novels. He likes to drive Lincolns (Who doesn’t) so that’s the source of the title.

    I have two main criticisms of this book:

    1) The character of Mickey Haller felt undefined, even non-existent. There seemed a hair’s difference (if any) between him and what an omniscient point of view would sound like. He was also just so perfect, just, and nice, even while doing some dodgy stuff. He didn’t seem like a real personality. I’ve come across that before in novel where the writer hasn’t been able to fully separate himself from the character and thereby infuse something different, unique, and believable into the character. It just sounds like the telling of a story from that omniscient point of view. Bosch, on the other hand, does tend to come across as a separate character in the Bosch novels.

    2) Shades of Michael Crichton, for aspects of this novel — particularly the ending — presented the novel as more as a screenplay for a movie than as a novel. And, indeed, there is a 2011 movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Mick Haller. And I have no desire to see it because I think McConaughey is one of the most over-rated actors of the day.

    I suppose if there’s a third objection, and these type of things tend to come in threes, it’s that the plot seemed a bit far-fetched and gadgety. Still, for the motivated reader, this is an interesting inside look from the defense attorney’s point of view. It’s too bad that Connelly didn’t have the balls to make Haller far less virtuous than he presents him. Haller is a despicable in all the small stuff but he’s presented as such a heroic character in the big-picture stuff. But it was his small, dodgy actions that were the most interesting and that infused Haller with a sense of him being a character.

    I thought Haller worked far better in the Bosch novel, The Crossing, where Bosch temporarily goes to work for his brother-in-law as an investigator. But all-Haller all the time (particularly with his sort of mushy, unrealistic, or unrealized character) is not anywhere near as compelling.

    Still, I may now go on and read the second in the series, The Brass Verdict, that does include Harry Bosch. Whether Bosch just makes a few appearances in the novel or is integral to it, I don’t know.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m 12% into Connelly’s The Brass Verdict which is the second in “The Lincoln Lawyer” series.

    Having tired a bit of the Bosch/Lincoln Lawyer books, I had tried looking elsewhere. A reviewer of a Bosch book on Amazon suggested the books by Brian Haig. I tried a couple of them at the online local library: “The President’s Assassin” and “The Capitol Game.” I didn’t get far. I’m not saying I’m totally giving up on the books. But they were so full of attitude and fluff. It’s as if Haig had gotten a new computer/word-processor for Christmas and just loved typing things out.

    His detective is full of pretentious and inflated Raymond-Chandler-like imitation. It was hard to read. Fault Michael Connelly for many things. But one of those things is not puffing his stories and characters up with all kinds of nonsense. His is also a very economical style of writing, That is to say, he gets to the point. Believe me, this can make up for a number of literary sins.

    So I’m back to a “The Lincoln Lawyer” novel in the meantime. And this one so far has an excellent story. I can’t tell you any more about it or it would spoil the fun. I hope the rest of the book is 3/4 as good.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I finished Michael Connelly’s second book in the “Lincoln Lawyer” series, The Brass Verdict.

    I thought this was the best of all the Bosch/Lincoln-Lawyer books thus far. Aside from an ending where Connelly tries too extravagantly to go for a grand finale finish, it was a thoroughly interesting read.

    The overall is that Michael Haller (the “Lincoln Lawyer” because the back seat of his Lincoln is his office) takes on a high-profile murder case involving a rich Hollywood producer and his dead wife.

    In the opening, we get some back-story on Haller and then proceed to his present circumstances. This is a good inside look at the criminal justice system from the defense point of view — assuming, of course, that Connelly’s view is an accurate one. Michael Haller is (in this novel) just starting out on his bigger-time career that we see in some of the middle-to-late Bosch novels (the timeline obviously skipping around here and there). He had been doing a lot of work as a public defender.

    Haller is not yet the thoroughly scheming and rule-bending defense attorney later portrayed. And he seems far more realistic of a character than his thin presentation in the first Lincoln Lawyer book. He is presented as a good guy, just doing a job that has to be done. But it’s also clear that Haller realizes that an innocent man in his profession is a rare thing.

    Harry Bosch is on the periphery of most of the story. Coming in and out, but not quite a central figure until nearer the end. Connelly does his best work so far (of books I’ve read) of keeping the story moving, describing believable characters (although the Hollywood producer seems a little over the top), and weaving an interesting and believable plot without (until the end, that is) too many gadgets.

    But the ending isn’t that bad. It just doesn’t finish with more on an ironic, minimalist flair that I would have expected. He super-sizes it a bit and I think does some damage to the vibe he had presented up to this point.

    This is also the novel where Haller finds out he has a half-brother in detective Bosch, although this plays no role in the plot. It’s just an interesting aside. But that relationship is certainly central in the book, “The Crossing,” as well as “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” Haller/Bosch are also featured in an earlier novel that I haven’t read, Nine Dragons.

    Also helping the novel along a bit is the relative lack of political correctness. Yes, the high-profile man on trial is a rich white male, but there are some minority bad-guys in this as well.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I finished “The Brass Verdict” last night and can say it was an enjoyable book. There were a couple of points which were a bit unbelievable or illogical, but they did not detract greatly from the overall book.

      I find it interesting that Connelly lets Haller come out and admit that few of his previous clients have been “innocent.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I haven’t read any of the Michael Connelly books, but it sounds like The Brass Verdict might be a good choice if circumstances permit. I just put it on my list of books to look for.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Glad you enjoyed it, Mr. Kung. I will be reporting momentarily on third in the Lincoln Lawyer series.

  13. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Sounds like this is a book I will have to check out of the library.

    It just hit me that Haller is the son of the big-time lawyer who represented Bosch’s mother in her numerous run-ins with the law. And also got her pregnant with Bosch. Bosch only met his father on the old man’s death bed.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Sounds like this is a book I will have to check out of the library.

      Perhaps.

      It just hit me that Haller is the son of the big-time lawyer who represented Bosch’s mother in her numerous run-ins with the law. And also got her pregnant with Bosch. Bosch only met his father on the old man’s death bed.

      I kinda forget the whole timeline/back-story of all that. I see you have a mind like a steel trap. But it did mention in this novel about Bosch meeting his father rather late in his life, and that was near the end.

      Not giving anything away, but there’s a good moment with Bosch and his half-brother staring out from the balcony onto the big valley from Haller’s place. Bosch mentions that he has the same view from the other side of the valley. You get that “opposites” thing clearly symbolically suggested. They are indeed opposites but in “The Crossing” those opposites come together in a dynamic and interesting way. And at the finish of “The Brass Verdict” you gain a lot more insight regarding Bosch and this whole strange relationship. In retrospect. In hindsight.

      I’ll throw in a slight spoiler about that relationship that you can either read or skip over. It’s not central to the plot of “The Brass Verdict,” per se, but this book is good enough not to water down any of the surprises. So go ahead and skip the next paragraph if you want.

      It’s interesting to look back at Bosch’s role in the case with the Hollywood producer on trial in “The Brass Verdict.” The gist of it is, Bosch knew all along that Haller was his half-brother but just never figured it was something to bother the other man with. But the other man (Haller) put two and two together (at the very end) and Bosch acknowledged his half-brother readily. Hint: Was Bosch particularly touchy-feely toward his half-brother? Answer: What do you think? This is Bosch. Defense lawyers (half-brother or no half-brother) are the enemy and he busts his chops throughout the book.

  14. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Bosch knew all along that Haller was his half-brother but just never figured it was something to bother the other man with.

    Don’t worry, this doesn’t give anything away. In one of the first 3 Bosch books, (I don’t recall which) the name of Bosch’s father is given before Bosch meets him. This being the case, the reader would have assumed that the young Haller was the offspring of the older Haller, to wit, Bosch’s half-brother.

  15. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve started the next book in Connolly’s “Lincoln Lawyer” series: The Reversal.

    I’m barely into it so I can’t say much about the quality of it. But it’s novel for one of his novels in that the defense attorney, Mickey Haller, is crossing over (shades of “The Crossing”) and acting for the prosecution. Haller has (for various reasons….some of them seem thin) taken on the role of special prosecutor to handle the case of an alleged child-murderer who either must be let go or retried because of new DNA evidence. Because of past misconduct and corruption in the prosecutor’s office, they want someone prosecuting this who is seen as being more independent.

    It’s an all-star team. Haller has enrolled his half-brother, Detective Bosch, as investigator. Bosch didn’t need to be talked into his role, child-murderers being about as low as you get on the totem pole of scum. Haller’s ex-wife, who already works in the prosecutor’s office, will be his second. The deal is if he wins, his ex-wife will be promoted.

    So far this is a pretty good build-up and premise. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Unusual, but special prosecutors can be any lawyer, I guess. In Britain, I gather that the tradition is that there’s a pool of barristers who can be used either to prosecute or defend, judging from case discussions I read in The Scalpel of Scotland Yard (a biography of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the great forensic pathologist).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Unusual, but special prosecutors can be any lawyer, I guess.

        Haller does a good job justifying (if only to himself) why a hardcore baby-killer-defender defense lawyer such as himself can, on a dime, switch to the (from his point of view) Dark Side and, errr, defend a baby-killer:

        It’s certainly unusual for me to be on the other side of the aisle, so to speak. But I think this is the case to cross over for. I’m an officer of the court and a proud member of the California bar. We take an oath to seek justice and fairness while upholding the Constitution and laws of this nation and state. One of the duties of a lawyer is to take a just cause without personal consideration to himself. This is such a cause. Someone has to speak for Melissa Landy. I have reviewed the evidence in this case and I think I’m on the right side of this one.

        Blah blah blah blah. The only motivation that seems believable is that he’s trying to cut a deal for his wife and further his desire to get back together with her. There’s a weak motivation written by Connelly that Haller is also trying to look good in the eyes of his young daughter (“Why are you always defending the bad guys, papa?”) by going after a bad guy. This seems tacked-on and a little less convincing. But I’ll cut him some slack here.

        Less noted (but I think he does mention it) is that this is a great case for some free publicity for Haller. Working out of the prosecutor’s office he takes a hit in pay. But the publicity (he thinks) will be good. I think we all know by the end of this story, things won’t likely turn out so cut-and-dried. We’ll see.

  16. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The third book in the Lincoln Lawyer series is The Reversal. As with the previous book in the series, “The Brass Verdict,” this also features Harry Bosch but his role is much bigger in this one.

    Connolly’s writing can be erratic. Although I thought “The Brass Verdict” was strong except for it’s jazzed-up ending, “The Reversal” reads like it was written while Connolly was passing time in the airport waiting for his next plane.

    His characters are inconsistent, especially Haller. I think we got the “real” Haller in “The Crossing.” That was the take-no-prisoner’s lawyer who would do anything for his clients short of breaking the law (and even then).

    As was the case in the first novel in the Lincoln Lawyer series (“The Lincoln Lawyer”), Michael Haller seems plastic and often not in character. He’s the cool, slick, manipulative lawyer and yet he uncharacteristic loses his temper, especially in regards to his ex-wife, Maggie McPherson, who is a token female in this, at best. It’s two’s company, threes a crowd. She has no purpose in this book.

    Adding to the confusing is he switches from a first-person point of view (with Haller telling the story) to omniscient, and back. And the way he writes, it’s often difficult to tell who is saying what. I repeatedly find myself going back to figure out who is talking.

    However, he writes Bosch excellently in this one. Note that I generally like this book and finished it. I’ve started dozens of books only to put some of them down only five pages into them. So by finishing this book, “The Reversal” certainly passes an important threshold.

    Still, this one is riddled with improbable circumstances. Wouldn’t you sequester the jury? Would the prosecution really trust this case to an ambulance-chasing defense lawyer? And even though I’m not familiar first-hand with a court room, there are facets of this that don’t ring true. Here and there. All sorts of little things. And, at the end, would Haller really go without police protection? That seems a really lazy red herring by Connelly.

    And the ending to this one has all the flaws of the previous book: It’s just super-sized for no damn reason at all, grand-finale style….and basically the entirety of the book that you’ve just read becomes somewhat of a moot point.

    Haller and his ex-wife are plastic and unrealistic in this one. But you do get a lot of Harry Bosch and following him on his investigation is very good. And Haller does give you some inside-baseball stuff about the courtroom that is interesting.

    But this is definitely one of the author’s lesser efforts. And perhaps this is just local knowledge, but no one in their right mind would head to Port Townsend on a Washington State Ferry via Seattle after arriving in SeaTac International Airport. You’d just drive around through Tacoma which would be a lot quicker and you’d avoid the high cost of the ferry…and the traffic in downtown Seattle which could easily delay you for a half hour. (And there’s no toll on the Narrows bridge heading north.) And it would be pure luck if you hit the ferry just when it was about to leave. They don’t leave every half hour. Sometimes there is an hour or more between ferries. So you’d be waiting, on average, at least a half hour at the ferry terminal for the ferry to arrive. Assuming you didn’t first get stuck in traffic or miss a ferry because a Mariners game just got out.

    Okay. So I was sure, despite that, that Connelly would wax poetic about Bosch and Maggie taking in the sites of the ferry. That’s why he took this route. But nothing. So it just seemed as if Connelly doubled down on dumb.

    And Connelly completely wastes this inside-baseball knowledge that Haller was as a defense lawyer now batting for the prosecution. Oh, you get Haller saying “This is what I would do.” But his supposedly hot-shot opposition on the defense side never seems particularly sharp. Like I said, I really do think he schlepped out a lot of these pages while waiting in an airport terminal.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      And the ending to this one has all the flaws of the previous book: It’s just super-sized for no damn reason at all

      Sounds like “The Brass Verdict.” There were simply too many people involved in the one of the crimes to be believable. And frankly, the amount left over after the split would be too small for some of those involved to risk it. There are a couple of other points which were a bit weak, like Haller being stupid just at the right time to put himself at risk, but these didn’t detract from the book that much.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Sounds like “The Brass Verdict.”

        Yes, “The Brass Verdict” was the previous book I read (the second in the Lincoln Lawyer series) before “The Reversal” (third in the Lincoln Lawyer series).

        In case you wish to read “The Reversal,” I don’t want to give too much away. But it seems an explosion of improbabilities at the end were woven precisely for the ending of a movie, not a book.

        I do like his portrayal of the woman judge in charge of the trial. She was good and felt like a real person. But I miss the ambulance-chasing lawyer (Haller) who justified doing anything and everything for his defense clients because of his belief that A) The state was a nearly all-powerful behemoth that could easily steamroll the individual (whether guilty or innocent) and that, B) every person, even if guilty as sin (and could pay), was deserving of the very best defense.

        I think Haller is showing some of the weakness of his liberalism. He waffles on this character, often trying to make him look too good. But he was a much better character when he was a no-holds-barred crafty ambulance-chasing lawyer.

        And I’m still not sure why he writes Bosch’s relationship with his daughter as he does. My guess is that this relationship, through the lens of California liberalism, looks normal. But it’s really annoying this standard by which Bosch at all times must walk on eggshells to make sure he doesn’t offend or upset his daughter. I keep thinking, Who’s the parent? But maybe this is the way it is these days. And why all daughters? None of the main characters have a son. This girl-power garbage gets old.

        I agree that the payoff for the crime in “The Brass Verdict” doesn’t match the risks involves. [Spoilers coming for those who haven’t read “The Brass Verdict,” so turn back now. This is definitely a book worth reading.]

        The whole idea that the judge (and not just any judge, but the central one in the court system) would risk her career for a few more dollars seems improbable. And to make it seems probable, we need some back-story on this. And we get zilch. So I guess you could call her a McGuffin or something.

        And I thought it was a horrible plot point where Haller is called out to rescue a client from a friendly cop — but the friendly cop turned out to be the corrupt juror. Okay…Haller did quickly see that the no one was there. But then why did he get out of the car? And why did the killer even suppose that Haller, on a dark night, would get out of his car if there was no one to get out of the car for? It just seemed like a horrible piece of writing. The whole ending was a sham. I would have preferred something tamer, grittier, and more realistic. Hell, maybe they all get away with it even though Haller knows who did what — setting up the tension of perhaps meeting this same judge in court again.

        That’s another thing. Haller just magically knows the judge was behind it. But we get no foreshadowing or inkling of this. So this just comes out of left field and seems tacked-on. And they’re going to kill people in order to keep a trial date on schedule just to keep the corrupt juror in place? Wouldn’t it be safer just to install another one? I believe that was the justification for the killing of the previous defense lawyer although that got muddled by the whole hint that the FBI was interested in the case. And they come out of left field at the last moment.

        And too often Connelly dips into his bag of cliches: There’s always a secret romance (usually between secretary and boss) the explains things. And the central character (the Hollywood producer) was horribly written. Why in the world would the guy so obviously be confident about being acquitted? Wouldn’t you at least try to go through the motions of acting scared? I mean, his profession is what? Making make-believe movies. But Connelly so over-writes his bombastic confidence of being acquitted that it just doesn’t seem real. Maybe a few small hints that the Hollywood producer is a little over-confident for some reason. But the writing of this character is just so ham-fisted.

        Connelly seems most comfortable writing Bosch which is surely why he usually comes off as a real character, although I did read some comments about one of the books that I haven’t read. One of the reviewers said that Connelly had him repeatedly acting out of character.

        Anyway, I’ve started “The Drop” which I can tell intersects some of the Bosch TV series, although the Bosch TV series is way different, This book involves the death of Irvin Irving’s son. In the TV series, he is murdered (and I forget how…but I think he is shot). In this one, he falls to his death from a hotel balcony. Splat. Maybe this is the meaning of the title of the book, “The Drop.” Irving (former assistant police chief, now a cop-hating member of the city council) has had numerous run-ins with Bosch but requests that Bosch investigate this because, despite their differences, he thinks he’ll do an honest job of it.

        Bosch in an interesting character in that he’s sort of centrist — in the sense that there are idiots to the right of him, idiots the the left of him, and to the top and bottom. Bosch truly likes putting bad people away. But the rest of these folk all have various motivations. And many of his fellow cops, if not corrupt, are just lazy jerks. It makes for a nice contrast.

        I should mention that one character I do like in the Lincoln Lawyer series is Haller’s ex-wife (he has at least two of them), Lorna Taylor. Haller has no office. He works out of his Lincoln. But he does have an office, per se, in the guise of Lorna Taylor who is his trusted office manager, assistant, and who pretty much does everything needed so that Haller can work out of the back of his Lincoln with only a cell phone and fax machine.

        There is no sense of a lingering love interest. They both recognize that, although they have a deep affection and respect for one another, their marriage was a mistake. But Lorna is the sort of anticipatory, organized Girl Friday/Della Street kind of legal savant that every good defense attorney needs. Without her, Haller couldn’t function. Their odd setup (in regards to how the business is run without an office, proper) and their relationship is well written and believable.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Haller just magically knows the judge was behind it.

          I had a similar thought at after Haller left the judge’s office. Haller’s confronting the judge is something that wouldn’t happen if for no other reason than there was a small chance that he was wrong. And if he was, he would be causing himself big trouble.

          But we get no foreshadowing or inkling of this.

          I felt Connelly was aiming at something like that conclusion, particularly from the time he described the workings of the jury selection system in such detail. I figured Vincent’s investigator Carlin had something to do with it, but was still not 100% that the judge was involved, although it was a very real possibility. In any case, it was clear that whoever pulled this off, not only understood and had good contacts in the system, but also had some high degree of control in the system.

          Even so, I still find the who thing a bit unbelievable as they were betting everything on the one corrupt juror getting on the jury and even if he did get over the initial hurdles, the chances are pretty good that he would be eliminated by one or the other lawyer.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Haller’s confronting the judge is something that wouldn’t happen if for no other reason than there was a small chance that he was wrong. And if he was, he would be causing himself big trouble.

            Good point. They supposedly had the guy who was inserted into the jury singing to the cops and Haller was aware of this. But even then. My thought was that Haller was wearing a wire when he confronted the judge because there’s no way he would have confronted that judge on his own and put himself on the line. For what purpose? That’s the work of the police. So another bit of lazy Connelly writing.

            A reviewer mentioned that about one of his books (one I haven’t read) that Bosch (or Haller…I forget) was always “sensing” what was going on without laying out the logic or evidence for why this was so. I think we see a bit of this in Haller in “The Brass Verdict” where he just somehow knew the judge was involved. It’s a literary cheat.

            There was so much legal minutia in this (most of which I found very interesting) that jury tampering wasn’t high on my list. Frankly, when it’s a case where there is so little information, I don’t even bother to guess. It was the FBI angle that had perplexed me though (and that surely could have hinted at a corrupt judge). And was this just a get-rich-quick scheme by the dead lawyer? Honestly, I forget, sort of in one ear and out the other.

            But I loved the way the novel started with the back story on Haller and the former prosecutor.

            With a book such as this, I think people have become addicted to Agatha Christie and don’t give enough respect to Columbo. I really didn’t care if Carlin was involved or not because we were not in a position to know. So I guess I just save the brains cells and spill no angst over what may be a red herring anyway.

            I think it would have made for a far more interesting novel if we saw behind the scenes of the bad guys….at least a bit. Maybe Mr. (or Mrs.) Big would stay in the shadows. And the problem with not doing so is that all this plot crap spills out at the end and it just a big “Meh,” as far as I’m concerned. I lose interest and really don’t care. I think you have to dance with the fellow who brung ya. If you’re writing a sort of minimalist detective novel of detail and slowly-dispensed grit, don’t super-size everything toward the end. It just seems tacked-on.

            Yes, the whole corrupt juror insertion method seemed improbable. Much easier to just corrupt and buy off an existing juror. Use those fancy pants resources they have access to and see who is in a little financial trouble. There will always be someone. (And something like this does occur in one of the other Bosch novels that includes Haller.)

            And I’m somewhat undecided about the story the Hollywood producer finally gives Haller upon him supposedly “owning up” to the truth. I thought the mob angle would have been a great one to play straight. And maybe Connelly borrowed only the bad bits from Columbo. Would a guy who wanted to kill his wife and his wife’s lover do it himself and then call 911 at the scene of the crime? With his kind of bucks, you’d hire someone and have your own alibi well established. None of that plot rang true.

            But because Connelly has a writing style that generally keeps things flowing (although there were some literary rough spots in “The Reversal,”) it’s still fun to read, even despite some of the nonsense. I wonder if he thinks he has to pander a bit to the plebs, that writing things too smart would turn people off.

            And I wonder if he didn’t get some blow-back in the way he wrote Haller (at least in a couple of the books) as a real sort of scoundrel of a lawyer. Now he seems to be bending over backward to make defense lawyers look good. Who got to him? I guess that would make for a good real-life mystery to solve.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              And I’m somewhat undecided about the story the Hollywood producer finally gives Haller upon him supposedly “owning up” to the truth.

              When I first read this part, I thought it sounds nice, but is nonsense. It just had too many holes.

              1. You can bet that if some stranger appeared in South California and started throwing around money in the movie business, his background would have been vetted by the media. Reporters love nothing more than causing trouble and if the boss had any mob connections, even appearance of mob connections it would have come out.

              2. The mob would not leave hundreds of millions in the control of one of their employees thus exposing it to a divorce suit by an unhappy wife.

              3. If the money did initially come from the mob, they would have funneled it through companies which they controlled and which would have had ownership of the boss’s company. The mob likes to have legal entities through which to move its money.

              Haller would have certainly known the above points.

  17. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I finished The Drop.

    Bosch works two cases in this one. One is from the cold-case files about an older murder, which is what his official duties are now. The other is an investigation into the apparent suicide of Councilman Irvin Irving’s son — a case given him specifically by the chief of police at the request of the councilman. This latter case has all kinds of political implications and pitfalls.

    In a departure for a Bosch novel, Bosch’s daughter, Maddie, is not an annoying teenage brat. Bosch and his daughter have some good moments together. It’s a shame Connelly didn’t stay consistent with this character and keep her in this place.

    That marks much of Connelly’s writing. He wanders here and there with the characterizations of the characters. But this was a nice departure for Maddie. For the first time I didn’t cringe every time her character was introduced.

    There are, of course, a couple cringe-worthy politically correct passages. But I would say Connelly was definitely below average in this regard. He also didn’t super-size the ending as he has done for some others, ruining the Zeitgeist and pacing of the books. In fact, it’s rather abrupt and somewhat incomplete. But I prefer this treatment. I suppose cop work can be that way sometimes. And having read the next novel in the series already (“The Black Box”), I don’t recall him tying up ay loose ends. So it just is what it is.

    The novel previous to this, “Nine Dragons,” includes Mickey Haller. From the reviews, the gist of it is that Harry goes to Hong Kong. Fine. No problem. But then one reviewer mention, “He goes to Hong Kong to rescue his daughter who is kidnapped.”

    Eyeroll. Leave her there to rot. I’m definitely going to bypass this one.

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