From the very first sentence Michael Connelly hooks the reader into Jack McEvoy's dark world. A newspaper reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, McEvoy has chased after death and written numerous articles dealing with not only the victim's story but the survivor's as well. How do you feel, one of his first line of inquiries when chasing a story, has now settled around him like a thick, wool blanket rubbing against bare skin when news of his twin brother's death reaches him.
Marred by an earlier childhood tragedy and his subsequent perceptions of failing to live up to his parent's expectations, Jack isn't ready to accept the idea that his brother Sean, a Denver Police Officer, committed suicide. Balancing the fact that Sean was working a brutal and unsolved murder case, that bothered him enough to seek psychiatric counsel, and his own knowledge of his twin's past, Jack isn't able to console himself with the obvious facts pointing to suicide. Seemingly chasing a dead end case and managing to alienate those that were close to his brother, Joe continues digging into the incident and discovers that not everything is as it first looks.
As a reporter, Jack uses the resources of the newspapers vast database to discover another death similar to that of his brother and travels to Baltimore searching for an elusive sliver of hope that he might find answers to his questions. What Jack uncovers is a slowly evolving pattern of a serial killer, and he finds himself in a struggle with the FBI to retain his exclusive story while trying to discover the murderer of lead detectives all staged as apparent suicides.
Connelly does a superb job of slowly building the intensity and then keeping it taut, while leading the reader through a high profile, quickly changing man-hunt as each new series of clues is discovered. Following the series of events through Jack's eyes keeps the reader grounded and feeling like an outsider looking in when the FBI gives him the slip. We are also charged with the moral dilemna of a man struggling to keep the gray between black and white becoming too shaded.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Poet, and consider this one of the better Connelly novel's that I've read. He does an excellent job of creating characters, giving them flaws that I can relate to and circumstances that are always believable. Slowly making my way through the Bosch series, which I will claim as one of my favorite series and characters, I discovered that I needed more background for the next novel in the list. Hence, me picking up an earlier work and one that is out of sequence, although I have already come across a few references to the Poet, and McEvoy as a reporter, in the earlier novels.