The Black Echo
by Michael Connelly
(Paperback) Grand Central Publishing December 2002
This is the first in the series of Connelly's Harry Bosch crime novels. I had read a couple of the later books and thought I'd go back to the beginning and read the first. It is an engrossing read. The main character, Bosch is a disillusioned LAPD detective, moving down the ladder of success. His single minded approach to investigations has caused his career to get permanently off track and he has been transferred to a back water district as this novel opens. A Vietnam vet, Bosch discovers the murder victim is an army comrade from his tunnel rat days in Vietnam. A joint LAPD/FBI investigation ensues. One of Connelly's strengths is slowly peeling the layers of the onion as the investigation unfolds. The time frame, the 80's, is pre cell phones, fax machines, and other digital tools and that allows for a more leisurely approach to the case. Bosch's character is really developed with the background material from his Vietnam years and a believable romance develops between Bosch and the FBI agent assigned to the case. I won't give away any plot spoilers but this story holds together very well until the last 30-40 pages when the coincidental events pile on. I think this is an excellent first novel in the series, it leaves you wanting to know more about the main character after rewarding you with a good read. I continue to think Connelly is the best author writing police procedurals today.