Bosch is predictable for two reasons: he will get the job done and he has an unyielding penchant for rubbing authority up the wrong way. Non-conformists make for the most interesting cops of literature and Bosch doesn’t always have a healthy regard for his colleagues, one of whom “was a gang member himself, albeit one sanctioned to carry weapons and paid by the county.” Invariably, the character of the star cop features strongly. It serves to keep main man interesting, viewed through a prism of faults, flaws and foibles.
Bosch has been transferred from the LAPD homicide to Hollywood’s Beverly Hills. Hollywood was a place apart and not because of the celebrities who lived and worked there in circumstances much more prestigious and glamorous than cops and their prey did.
Nationwide, the vast majority of murder victims know their killer. They are the people they eat with, drink with, sleep with drink with. But Hollywood was different. There were no norms. There were only deviations. Strangers killed strangers here. Reasons were not a requirement.
Bosch’s loner status is underscored by his sitting alone in his gaff on a Christmas night, turkey for one. With little else to compete for his attention his ears are quick to pick up when an alert comes though. Cal Moore is a cop, chasing up a drugs matter. Found dead in a hotel room with a suicide note beside his body, Bosch is not buying it. The tittletattle is that Moore has been selling the drug himself, although given his liver problems another drug seemed to be his destroyer of choice.
The police hierarchy does not want Bosch on the case and goes to some lengths to take control, readily accepting the suicide theory which adds even more to the suspicion of Bosch, who finds it implausible that Moore might have killed himself with a shotgun. A lot of open cases are then thrown the way of Bosch, the purpose of which is to put distance between him and handing the Moore murder. Moore was not new to Bosch: the two had met earlier to discuss the emergence onto the market of Black Ice, but the dead detective had been a magnet for trouble and had encountered difficulties both at work and in the home, which he had since departed, domestic bliss long having decided he was not an ideal travelling companion. It is not long before Moore’s widow stirs longings in the live alone Bosch.
The open cases throw up a gem: a body is discovered in a dumpster, routinely described as a Juan Doe, to distinguish it from the better class of corpse north of the border, where decomposition smells sweeter. The victim is the type the Trump porous wall is meant to prevent getting into the States today. Bosch heads to Mexico to investigate. The safety a cop might expect in Los Angeles is not piously observed south of the US border in places like Calexico and Mexicali. For Bosch, the deceased Cal Moore takes on the dual persona of victim and perpetrator.
The end when it comes is predictably violent, the manner of its execution prompting the reader to wonder if the distance between cops and gang members is less clear than the official spin would have it.
From Black Echo To Black Ice, the transfer is smooth enough even if Ice has less of a grip than Echo. The slow pace does not impair a book when it is well written, a task the acumen of which Connelly has finetuned. One line underscores this:
Beneath the sodium lights he saw the bodies of homeless men and women sprawled asleep in the grass around the war memorial. They looked like casualties on a battlefield, the unburied dead.
Michael Connelly, 2009, The Black Ice. Orion. ISBN-13: 978-1409116868