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the black box

21 may 2016

I almost never guess the solutions in mystery novels. But I saw which way The Black Box was going within a few pages, and just waited a couple hundred more till Harry Bosch caught up with me. Harry's getting older, or maybe I'm just getting wiser.

Harry Bosch novels aren't really puzzle mysteries anyway, of course. One reads them for their clarity, their medium-boiled language and soft-shelled characters, their inevitable confrontations between procedural bosses and lonely knight-like detectives.

In his professional dotage, Harry has been assigned to the Open-Unsolved unit to handle cold cases. This is the perfect match for his Quixotic temperament. In The Black Box he unearths a case he hadn't had time to work back during the 1992 Los Angeles riots: a Danish journalist executed in a silent alleyway. The crime does not fit with the rest of the violence that swept the city at the time, and in some ways the bosses don't want it solved: it makes it seem like all the LAPD really cares about is the murder of good-looking young white women.

And so we get to have it both ways as readers: we get to empathize against the racism of the institution, and we get to empathize with Harry Bosch, because all he cares about in this story is the murder of a good-looking young white woman.

Harry's always-tentative interpersonal relationships are making glacial progress for the better in this one. He gains some new insights into some interesting colleagues. When he finally tips to the motive for the long-ago murder, he goes on a rogue rampage that would get any other detective fired, sealed in a capsule, and shot into orbit; but I reckon Harry Bosch will just come back surlier than ever in the next installment.

Connelly, Michael. The Black Box. 2012 New York: Grand Central [Hachette], 2013.