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