When preda­tor and prey in­ter­sect

Noth­ing is as it seems at first, and read­ers are drawn into a metic­u­lously planned in­ves­tiga­tive trail.

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ONCE a cop, al­ways a cop, right? It seems a straight­for­ward enough ques­tion so it is typ­i­cal of Michael Con­nelly that, with his lat­est book The Cross­ing, he stands it on its head. Harry Bosch is now late of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment. His en­e­mies within the force have been quick to jump on an in­frac­tion made dur­ing his last case. Bosch is pre­ma­turely “re­tired”, down but de­fi­antly not out. So who bet­ter than his half- brother and star of his own fic­tional se­ries, Mickey Haller, to take up Bosch’s case and file a suit against the force? And if you are wily old Haller, who bet­ter to have on your side than Bosch, par­tic­u­larly when you are de­fend­ing a man you be­lieve to be in­no­cent in a very high- pro­file mur­der case?

So the first chap­ters of The Cross­ing are taken up with Haller try­ing to per­suade Bosch that his client is in­no­cent. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Bosch takes some con­vinc­ing as the ev­i­dence is DNA- based. You can mess with most things but not DNA. It is what it is, isn’t it? Well, I’m not go­ing to give away plot de­tails but let’s just say that this par­tic­u­lar DNA ev­i­dence is ques­tion­able and only Bosch is likely to work out why.

But first there is an­other is­sue. Bosch has spent his en­tire pro­fes­sional ca­reer in­ves­ti­gat­ing and putting away the bad guys. Along the way, he has seen guilty peo­ple ac­quit­ted on the back of clever de­fence work in court. For Bosch to work with Haller means go­ing over to the other side – the first “cross­ing” of the ti­tle. His for­mer col­leagues will, for the most part, de­spise him for do­ing so. So the first de­mon that Bosch has to wres­tle with is his own pro­fes­sional con­science.

Bosch’s first re­source is, as usual, the “Case Book”. It is an ar­ti­cle of faith with Bosch that all the an­swers lie in the case book but the clues are missed by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers. In this in­stance, he spots a watch that is un­ac­counted for; not just any watch but a very ex­pen­sive and there­fore trace­able watch. Its his­tory leads to darker places and more mur­ders. Bosch’s cross­ing to the other side rapidly be­gins to look more like an in­ves­tiga­tive pros­e­cu­tion than a case for the de­fence.

Con­nelly is a mas­ter of in­ves­tiga­tive pro­ce­dures, map­ping out metic­u­lously the process and tak­ing the reader bit by bit through the dis­cov­er­ies that Bosch makes as he delves fur­ther and fur­ther into an ever- murkier case. Bet­ter than any other writer I know, Con­nelly gets to grips with the con­nec­tions, jumps, hunches and luck that char­ac­terise in­ves­ti­ga­tions. This scrupu­lous map­ping lends com­plete con­vic­tion to both char­ac­ters and case.

The Cross­ing, how­ever, does not re­fer only to the shift from pros­e­cu­tion to de­fence. Other cross­ings fea­ture promi­nently: The cross­ing from em­ploy­ment to re­tire­ment, the cross­ing of cops from up­hold­ing the law to break­ing it, and of course the key one in any crime, the point when preda­tor and prey cross paths.

For Con­nelly, too, this is an­other cross­over book, fea­tur­ing as it does both Haller and Bosch. There is lit­tle doubt who is the fo­cus and star of this one: Bosch, hands down. But they are good coun­ter­parts.

In one mem­o­rable scene, Haller holds cen­tre stage “look­ing high and low, giv­ing ev­ery­one an op­por­tu­nity to ask ques­tions and hear his sage and some­times wry re­sponses. From his pocket he pulled a thick stack of busi­ness cards and handed them out as he spoke, mak­ing sure the re­porters got his name right.... Bosch stood off to the side with his daugh­ter and watched the spec­ta­cle.” The con­trast in their char­ac­ters could not be clearer.

There are hints of a new di­rec­tion for Bosch at the end of the book and the mer­est sug­ges­tion of a new ro­mance. His daugh­ter, Maddy, is about to leave home and go to col­lege, pos­si­bly fol­low­ing in her father’s foot­steps. Ev­ery­thing is chang­ing.

But what­ever those changes turn out to be, I and count­less other Bosch fans will be in­trigued to fol­low his next move and see if the pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with Haller de­vel­ops. But Bosch as any­one’s side­kick is des­tined not to work. It seems safe to as­sume there will be com­pli­ca­tions ahead.

Need­less to say, I en­joyed The Cross­ing. Con­nelly al­ways has me want­ing “just an­other chap­ter”. The Cross­ing doesn’t have the blis­ter­ing end­ing of some of his work and is gen­er­ally per­haps a lit­tle more re­strained in tone. But Con­nelly couldn’t write a bad book if he tried and ev­ery one of them is a joy to read.

Photo: chris Pizzello/ Invision/ AP

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