The first of Connelly's Harry Bosch books has a lot going for it, most notably an excellent plot involving murder, banks heists, deception and the Vie...moreThe first of Connelly's Harry Bosch books has a lot going for it, most notably an excellent plot involving murder, banks heists, deception and the Vietnam war. Heironymous 'Harry' Bosch is a middle aged LA homicide detective whose career has gone from glittering to dismal - after being lauded by the press for his work solving high profile cases and having a TV character based on him he has been hounded from the prestigious Robbery Homicide Division to a lower ranking post in Hollywood Homicide by Internal Affairs, who are still looking to complete the job and chase him from the force. This is because he's the classic detective, brilliant but not seen as part of "the Family", something of a loose cannon (he even considers himself to be a bit of a cliché - he listens to jazz, drinks too much and is a loner who can't hold down a long term relationship).
Bosch is, however, an good character with a nice backstory and a decent amount of complexity. The same goes for some of the supporting cast, while others are cardboard cyphers (the two IAD officers, Lewis and Clark, for instance). The writing itself is ok - I do love the way the story unfolds, and the way that Connelly mixes Bosch's internal musings and memories into the narrative on occasion - but often the prose is downright clunky. In particular Connelly writes dialogue like a journalist (which he was); it is more about providing information than character. Indeed, there is hardly any character voice in the dialogues at all (with the possible exception, oddly, of Bosch's partner Jerry Edgar who is only a minor character, the voices are largely interchangeable; Bosch's narrative voice is strong but even that doesn't really carry over into his speech).
But a very strong, engaging thriller with some real substance, which I far prefer to the sort of page-turner thrillers that I finish and find I couldn't give a damn about any of events or characters I'd been reading about for the previous 400 pages (James Patterson and his ilk).
An odd side note. The cover photo on my edition seems to be of a rainy British motorway, which is a bit weird...
This was a tough one to rate. It is my first time reading DeLillo, and I confess that this does make me want to read him more, despite my low rating....more
This was a tough one to rate. It is my first time reading DeLillo, and I confess that this does make me want to read him more, despite my low rating. His writing is beautiful, built of rhythms and allusions, foreshadowings and call-backs. So why did I rate it so low?
From the start there was something in the speech patterns of the characters that annoyed me. Almost every sentence is fragmentary, unfinished. Yes, people speak like this often, but not constantly. At first I thought DeLillo was going for this sort of stilted realism, even though to me it sounded stagey and fake, like an amateur dramatic performance of a Pinter play. In retrospect, though, this style fits in with the style of the rest of the book. Everything about the book hints at more going on than is foregrounded - as should be the case with literature, of course; that is one of the things that raises it above ‘ordinary’ fiction - but I have no idea what. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; ambiguity can be a wonderful tool and I had decided when I finished this book that if the ambiguity stayed with me and made me think and question what I had read I would go back and up my rating, but it hasn’t. I won’t say that it is a novel about nothing - it is about loss, obviously, and communication (or the problem of it) and, no doubt, other things, but it seemed to me a fairly empty exercise. One thing that seemed appropriate was the description of Lauren’s performance as the titular Body Artist. It seemed like one of those avant-garde pieces of performance art that certain cultured people coo over and pretend they see profound meaning in, but is really vapid and pretentious, which seemed a nice parallel for the book itself. (less)