The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Mass market, 482 pages, 1992

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: After having read Connelly’s Harry Bosch series for years I finally decided to start at the beginning of the series.

Synopsis: When Detective Harry Bosch is called to the scene of an apparent overdose, things just aren’t adding up for him. Sure, the deceased, a fellow ‘tunnel rat’ who fought alongside Bosch in Vietnam, had his share of problems after returning from the war, but things had been looking up. Someone wanted this man dead and they were prepared to kill him and do much more to hide their secret, and the renegade cop Bosch might be the only thing standing in their way…

Why you should read this book: I actually put this down halfway through to take a minute to double-check that this was, in fact, Connelly’s first novel because I was sure I’d jumped into the series a few books in. Bosch is the same warrior for justice he is in his later novels, his quick wit and determination leading the way on a wild pursuit for the truth, regardless of the dark places it will take him. The pacing stays at a rapid pace through the majority of the novel, the characters are so well-formed that I thought it was the middle of the series rather than the beginning, and the plot balances cleverly between shock and credulity. What more can you ask for? The story is also aging well – sixteen years after it was published, the only thing that seems dated is the use of pay phones instead of cell phones, which seems like proof that Connelly focused on all the right things to keep the book fresh and exciting even years later. If you’re looking for an amazing suspense series, start with The Black Echo and don’t stop until you’re all caught up with the amazing detective work of Harry Bosch.

Why you should avoid this book: There’s the occasional spot where Connelly’s penchant for suspense isn’t quite up to par with his later books, but you’ll barely notice, especially if you’re actually starting the series here at the very beginning.

Opening paragraph:

The boy couldn’t see in the dark, but he didn’t need to. Experience and long practice told him it was good. Nice and even. Smooth strokes, moving his whole arm while gently rolling his wrist. Keep the marble moving. No runs. Beautiful.

Fabulous quotes:

‘I’m talking to you, asshole!’ the detective boomed.
Bosch reached his foot up under the table and kicked the chair that was across from him. The chair shot out from the table and its backrest hit the detective in the crotch. He doubled over and made an oomph sound, grabbing the chair for support. Bosch knew he had his reputation going for him now. Harry Bosch: a loner, a fighter, a killer. C’mon kid, he was saying, do something.

‘Hey, what is this?’ Jack said, though there was no confidence in his voice. He rushed into the hall and Arson, who was the biggest of all four of them, hit him with a fist on the bridge of his nose. There was a sound like a pencil breaking, and the plastic bowl of tuna fish clumped to the ground. Then there was a lot of blood on the off-white carpet.

Also recommended: The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver; The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer; Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt.

Also by this author: The Brass Verdict; The Overlook; Echo Park; The Lincoln Lawyer; The Closers; The Narrows; Lost Light; Chasing the Dime; City of Bones; A Darkness More Than Night; Void Moon; Angels Flight; Blood Work; Trunk Music; The Poet; The Last Coyote; The Concrete Blonde; The Black Ice; Crime Beat.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Connelly has edited a book called The Blue Religion put out by the Mystery Writers of America, which features short stories about cops and criminals. Out April 2008, it features one of Connelly’s own stories, called ‘Father’s Day.’

Would I read more by this author? Absolutely – I think Connelly is my favourite suspense writer and luckily I still have at least a dozen of his books to go. The king of slump-breaker reads.

&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2008

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