Michael's Reviews > The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
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's review
May 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery, read-in-2009
Read in May, 2009

Michael Connelly's continues to expand his fictional universe beyond the confines of Harry Bosch--and that's a good thing. It's not that I don't like Bosch, but it really seems that Connelly's better efforts these days are when Bosch isn't the central focus of the novel.

At the front and center of his latest book, "The Scarecrow" is former Rocky Mountain News reporter, Jack McEvoy. As the book begins, Jack has been downsized from his beat at the Los Angeles Times and given two weeks to train his replacement for the crime beat. Jack is famous for his involvement with the events detailed in "The Poet" (which if you've not read, you should, but it's not necessary to enjoy "The Scarecrow"), but that fame and his salary have put him on the chopping block. After taking a call on a seemingly innocuous crime story, Jack begins to look into things and decides to go out with a story to remember. The story concerns a young man, arrested on suspicion of murder, though the young man swears his innocence. Jack finds some troubling details in the confession as well as a larger pattern to the a potential serial killer.

Jack's investigation sets off the alerts of the Carver, who initiates an all-out attack on Jack through technological means. The Carver wants to cover his tracks and begins to set up Jack for a fall.

"The Scarecrow" alternates perspectives between Jack and the Carver as the two engage in a cat-and-mouse race-against-time. The deadline for Jack's career at the L.A. Times as well as Carver's pursuit help give the narrative the drive it needs and the suspense builds with each passing page. Equally frightening is how easily the Carver is able to use technology to cut off Jack from contact with world--including cutting off e-mail access, draining his bank account and canceling credit cards. It will make you think about identity theft and just how apparent your passwords really are in a whole new light.

Connelly is an author whose grown on me with his recent works. His stories are more than mysteries. They're character driven and the biggest success is how he's expanding his universe. He has a wide variety of interesting, fascinating characters--all of whom have their own voice. It'd be easy to just have all the characters be a derivation of Bosch, but Connelly doesn't settle for that. He may not be at quite the nirvana-like level I hold Laura Lippman or Elizabeth George, but he's getting closer with each book.
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05/28/2009 page 109
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