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THE DROP by Michael Connelly: Book Review

Everybody counts or nobody counts. That’s the mantra that propels Harry Bosch.  The Los Angeles police detective is still in the Open-Unsolved Unit, better known as the Cold Cases Unit.  Any unsolved murder, even one going back fifty years, can be reopened.  There’s no statute of limitations on murder in California.

As the novel opens Harry receives a new case.  It’s one in which it looks as if someone made a serious error.  A young woman, Lily Price, was grabbed on her way home from the beach one day in 1989 and brutally raped and murdered.  Her killer left only one identifying mark, a spot of blood on her neck, apparently transferred by the belt he used to strangle her.  Now that blood spot is reexamined using today’s techniques, and it comes back identified as belonging to a convicted sexual offender.  There’s only one problem with this identification–at the time of the crime, the suspect whose blood was on the victim’s body was only eight years old.

Harry is called away from a meeting about this case by a phone call from his former partner Kiz Rider, who is now the assistant to the chief of police.  She tells Harry he’s about to be called onto a case involving Irvin Irving, a former deputy chief in the department who had been forced out and is currently a city councilman.  Irvin is now seen by the department as an enemy, getting his own back by cutting the department’s budget whenever possible.

Irvin’s only son, George, was found early that morning on the sidewalk in front of a hotel after a drop from the hotel’s seventh floor. Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder?  In spite of the antagonistic past Harry and Irvin shared, Irvin claims he wants Harry as the chief investigator on this case.  He says he’s willing to accept whatever the truth is.  Harry is wary, but he has no choice–the case is his.

The Drop is as good as it gets. Harry Bosch is back in top form.  He’s a man who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, if at all, and he doesn’t bend.  When the Irving case takes him to places he doesn’t want to go, he’s aware of the dangers ahead but goes anyway.  It’s his job, and he’s going to do it right.

The “high jingo,” as Harry calls orders from his superiors, is that Harry should hold off on the cold case for a while and concentrate on the Irving case.  But that’s not Harry’s style, and he’s determined to handle both cases simultaneously.  When he sets out to interview Clayton Pell, whose blood was found on Lily, he also meets Dr. Hannah Stone, a psychologist who works with sexual offenders.  There’s an immediate spark between them, something Harry hasn’t felt in a long time, and in spite of their different views about sexual predators they begin a relationship.  But can it survive their opposing points of view toward Clayton Pell, plus a secret that Hannah is keeping?

Michael Connelly has again penned a fast-paced, well-written novel about Harry Bosch, a man with a many-faceted personality. He’s a loving father, an excellent policeman, but also a man who is unforgiving to his enemies.  He is certain of the right way to do his work and which path to take, and when others don’t meet his standards he writes them off.  There is my sense that in The Drop Harry Bosch is mellowing just a bit, but you’ll have to read the novel to see if you agree.

You can read more about Michael Connelly at his web site.