The Harry Bosch Novels
The Black Echo, The Black Ice,
The Concrete Blonde
by Michael Connelly
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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The Harry Bosch Novels is a compilation of Michael Connelly's first three books featuring the title character. At nearly 800 pages, the size of the book is intimidating. But between the covers are intense investigative stories involving one fascinating, but complicated cop.

In The Black Echo, we are introduced to Hieronymus(rhymes with anonymous)Bosch. Harry, as he is known throughout the LAPD, is considered an outsider among his colleagues. The detective created quite a scandal with his officer-involved shooting of an unarmed serial killer nicknamed The Dollmaker. After a brief suspension out of the country, Bosch is back on duty with the LAPD.

The difficult detective is called to a local reservoir where a body was found in a drainage pipe. At a glance, it appears to be a basic overdose, but Bosch has his doubts. He soon recognizes the recently deceased as a fellow Vietnam vet and former "tunnel rat" named Billy Meadows.

Clues at the scene paired with Meadows' history tell Harry that this was no accidental death. Further examination of this homicide leads to a related federal investigation. Bosch is teamed up with FBI agent Eleanor Wish.

Billy Meadows' death is only the tip of the iceberg. Tied to the violent act is a string of crimes dating back to the Vietnam era. Connelly's Edgar Award-winning novel takes readers on a wild ride as they discover the clues and unlock the secrets of The Black Echo.

The Black Ice opens on Christmas Day. Harry Bosch spends his holiday at a shocking crime scene. LAPD officer Calexico Moore is dead in a motel bathroom. He had been missing for days and now he's blown off his head with a sizable gun.

Harry is not a favorite of his superiors, so he's only given a minor role in the investigation. The rogue detective uses his foot in the door to expand his inquiry. It seems Calexico Moore reported finding a body in a restaurant alley the night before he disappeared.

Bosch knows the two incidents are related. He's got the guts (and the lack of common sense) to delve further. There are bodies and cover-ups on both sides of the law and everything is related to the sale and transport of a powerful, profitable drug called Black Ice.

With the odds and the department stacked against him, Harry Bosch travels to Mexico and back in search of the truth. He encounters crooked cops, a round of bullets branded with his name, and one nasty bull that can't be taken down with a gun.

Readers are in for a wild ride, and they'll be stunned by the truth behind The Black Ice.

The Concrete Blonde opens with a civil trial. The widow of Norman Church, aka The Dollmaker, is suing Harry Bosch for violating her husband's civil rights. Church was shot as he was reaching for something under his pillow. Bosch thought it was a gun, but it turned out to be a hairpiece.

The police department has no doubt that Church was the Dollmaker, but the department is getting bad publicity from the trial.

During a break in the proceedings, Bosch is summoned to a crime scene. A body has been found encased in the cement foundation of a burned-out storage building. Because of her features, the victim has been dubbed the Concrete Blonde.

An anonymous note has been leaked to the media. It claims that Norman Church is not the Dollmaker, implying that Harry Bosch killed an innocent man. The plaintiff's camp is being fed details that aren't known by the public. That means that someone within the investigation is out to get Bosch.

Connelly's third novel in the series moves back and forth between Bosch's trial and the case of the concrete blonde. The two events are tied together by Honey Chandler, the vicious, high-profile attorney for the widow Church.

The trial is moving along at a steady clip and "Money" Chandler is really sticking it to Bosch. What the public doesn't know is that there appears to be a copycat to the Dollmaker. Keeping this information a secret doesn't help Bosch's case. Making it public would tip "The Follower" that the authorities are close to his identity.

Can Bosch locate the Follower before his trial is done? Is it possible this copycat killer is someone within the close circle of the investigation? Can he be stopped before he kills another Concrete Blonde?

Author Michael Connelly draws on his experience as a newspaper crime reporter to introduce readers to the seedy side of Los Angeles. The characters are gritty and the situations are gruesome. Some images are hard to digest, but readers give their complete attention, like rubberneckers at a crime scene.

Connelly knows how to pace a story and keep the pages turning. The characters in each of the three stories are fascinating and complex. The author demands complete attention from his readers. So much so, that it was impossible for me to read straight through the book. In between Bosch stories, I read a couple of simple romance buffer-type novels to give my mind a rest.

The Vietnam flashback angle of The Black Echo has been deemed unoriginal by some reviewers. Personally, I find the story line original and riveting. In fact, in all 3 novels the twists and turns are stunning and surprising. The plot timing is excellent and there isn't a single distracting slow point anywhere.

These three novels introduce readers to the world of Hieronymous Bosch. This character makes best-selling sleuths like Kinsey Millhone look like lightweights. Be prepared for stories more intense than the usual suspense offerings.

Connelly plunges readers into the depths of the LAPD and the seedier side of Los Angeles. The stories are guaranteed to increase your heart rate and shouldn't be missed by any reader who enjoys a gritty crime scene.

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