Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: THE DROP by Michael Connelly

THE DROP by Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin, 2011)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD, and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two.

DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he an eight-year-old killer or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? The latter possibility could compromise all of the lab's DNA cases currently in court.

Then Bosch and his partner are called to a death scene fraught with internal politics. Councilman Irvin Irving's son jumped or was pushed from a window at the Chateau Marmont. Irving, Bosch's longtime nemesis, has demanded that Harry handle the investigation.

Relentlessly pursuing both cases, Bosch makes two chilling discoveries: a killer operating unknown in the city for as many as three decades, and a political conspiracy that goes back into the dark history of the police department. 

An uncanny (an uncommon) knack for keeping a long-running series fresh is one of many attributes that have seen Michael Connelly become one of the modern masters of crime fiction over the past twenty years. And while he has penned some terrific standalone novels, such as THE POET, along with a very good ‘second series’ featuring ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ Mickey Haller, it is the ongoing exploits of LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch that is the true spine of Connelly’s crime writing career.

Connelly’s latest novel, THE DROP, sees an aging Bosch – one of crime fiction’s greatest characters – spending his final pre-retirement years working cold cases for the Open-Unsolved Unit. With his colleagues he hopes and hunts for new evidence that could bring long-forgotten cases back to the light, and perpetrators to long-overdue justice. But a drop of blood could have effects far beyond a single dusty file, as new DNA testing provides a ‘cold hit’ on a 1989 rape case – unfortunately the hit points the finger at a sex offender who was only eight years old at the time. Has the lab made a mistake, potentially putting hundreds of cases in jeopardy? Or is something else going on?

Bosch is ’specially shoulder-tapped by his Open-Unsolved boss to investigate the delicate matter, but is soon under further pressure when he’s reluctantly hauled into a fresh investigation, the seems-like-suicide death of the son of his long-time nemesis, Councilman Irvin Irving. Under the blowtorch from Irving and his police bosses at a time when his very future in the department is unclear, Bosch finds himself juggling two dangerous cases that could explode with political and media fallout.

A drop of blood; a man who dropped from a hotel balcony; and Bosch’s very own DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) – like the title itself, Connelly’s latest tale is full of layers and texture. Politics and police work collide as Bosch swims the murky waters of ‘high jingo’, his relentless nature driving him to get at the truth, wherever and whatever that may be, and whatever the cost.

Throughout the Bosch series Connelly has always strived to show the reader new aspects of the detective’s life on and off the job, the complexities and changing nature of police work throughout the years. Here, there are many strands: detectives working on multiple cases at once, rather than a singular investigation; the considerations that arise beyond mere law and justice; questions about how the media, politicians, police and others mesh and entangle with differing agendas and concerns; the ongoing imprint left by history and experience; and much more.

THE DROP is another compelling instalment in one of the very best series in crime fiction, an engrossing tale that will delight long-time Bosch fans and new readers alike. Packed with authentic character relationships, intriguing issues, and plenty of depth beneath a gripping storyline, it leaves the reader wondering quite where Connelly and Bosch will take us next. And keen to find out.


Related content:
Other reviews of THE DROP:


  1. Nice review - it is such a relief to loyal readers, each time Michael Connelly writes a new book, to know one is in for a good reading experience.

  2. Craig - A fine review, for which thanks. Connelly wins the Margot Kinberg award for most consistent, never-lets-me-down author for just the sort of reasons you outline.

  3. I think I read the first two in the series ages ago, but I haven't powered through past there. Looks like I should give it a go.