Jim Thomsen's Reviews > The Black Echo

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
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Aug 18, 2010

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Read in August, 2010

After reading four or five first-rate crime novels by Michael Connelly, my streak is over. I finally ran into a clunker — comparatively speaking, anyway; I doubt Connelly is capable of writing a BAD novel — in "The Black Echo."

The book just didn't lift off the ground for me. The plot felt mechanical, with little genuine dramatic heft. The villains are largely a) not all that villainous; or b) offstage. And the main character, Los Angeles Police Det. Harry Bosch, seems sort of dull and one-dimensional, more of a tired archetype in crime fiction that a wholly living and breathing original. Man With A Tragic Past?™ Check. Cop On The Edge Who Lives By His Own Rules?™ Check. Using Character's Love Of Jazz Music To Imbue Depth And Soul?™ Check. And I'm bored beyond all possible belief of The Hero Who Hooks Up With a Hot FBI Agent™ ... a vein that Connelly has bled in every other Connelly book I've read. (Seriously, do all "supermarket suspense" authors sing off the same sheet of music?)

The story: Det. Harry Bosch, a loner in hot water with LAPD brass, recognizes a homicide victim as a former fellow "tunnel rat" from his Army days in Vietnam. Sniffing up the dead ex-soldier's backtrail gets him in hot water with his own department as well as the FBI, which dispatches an attractive female agent to work with him and keep him in line. A difficult romance ensues as Bosch works to make connections between the murder victim and an underground-tunnel bank heist a few months before.

"The Black Echo"isn't a bad book, really, just a rote, uninspired trudge through commercial crime-fiction cliches. The Connelly framework, competent as it is, becomes further exposed with each new volume. Of particular note is his use, again, of the third-act The Crime Is Solved And The Bad Guys Are All Taken Down ... Or Are They?™ device in the final pages. This one was particularly unsatisfying, not to mention morally ambiguous as all hell.

Don't get me wrong. I love Connelly, and think he's one of the best crime novelists going. "The Black Echo" just doesn't find him at the top of his considerable game, in my opinion.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Carac Allison My rating reveals that I disagree with you about this book. But I found this comment interesting:

"The villains are largely a) not all that villainous; or b) offstage"

Do you think that because the detective archetype is so known and familiar it is necessarily the villain that makes a new contribution to the genre standout?


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