Vicki's Reviews > The Black Echo

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
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's review
Oct 07, 2011

it was amazing

Michael Connelly sets the standard for gritty crime novels from the perspective of a jaded but insightful Los Angeles detective. This is the first of several novels featuring Detective Harry Bosch, a loner who is at odds with Internal Affairs and his own supervisor, and is constantly threatened with demotion and/or reassignment for following his own path rather than departmental guidelines.

Harry gets the call on this particular case, which appears to be an overdose death in an above ground open sewer pipe at a Los Angeles area reservoir. Harry immediately sees some details which others have overlooked, details which make him question the initial assumption that this is an accidental overdose by a hardened drug user. It doesn't take Harry long to realize he actually knows the victim, and in fact was in Viet Nam assigned to the same outfit around 15 years prior. They had both been assigned the frightening duty of "tunnel rats," which involved going down into dark and ominous tunnels looking for Viet Cong. Those tunnels could run for miles under jungles and from village to village. The blackness and dank fetid air in those tunnels earned those tunnels the nickname, the Black Echo.

Harry still suffers from insomnia and nightmares as a result of his time in Viet Nam. He recalls that the victim found in the pipe at the reservoir had indeed developed a drug habit while in the service, but had actually called Harry in recent years asking for help getting into treatment in an attempt to get clean and avoid more prison time. He also recalled that the victim had seemed to relish the thrill and excitement of the unknown that went with the tunnel assignments.

As details of the case begin to unfold, Harry is surprised to find out that the FBI also has an interest in the murder investigation. Over the objections of his supervisor, Harry begins to work with the FBI investigators and they share information which may lead to solving the murder case. But as Connelly's tales usually have, there is an additional case, an unsolved bank robbery which the murder case appears to be part of. There are players involved whose appearances complicate the case, and surprisingly keep leading Harry's thinking back to the fall of Saigon. Harry's power of analysis and his dogged linking of far flung, seemingly unrelated clues help him to build a case, leading slowly toward the murderer and inevitably the resolution of a myriad of additional crimes.

This is a tale of outstanding detective work up against sordid crime and master criminals, police corruption and bureaucratic obstacles described in the vividly detailed setting of urban Los Angeles. Harry Bosch is a detective whose various cases you will want to experience as he reappears as protagonist in several Connelly novels, all gripping mysteries involving near perfect crimes. Harry Bosch smokes too much, drinks too much, doesn't do personal relationships very well, but goodness, can he pick up a thread of clues and follow them through to the end!

So if you see the name Michael Connelly on the book cover, grab it and you'll enjoy every minute of it. Boy can he plot a great mystery!
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