Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
When it comes to crime and thriller writing, there are few bigger names than Michael Connelly – a man critics have called “the greatest living American crime writer”, and the heir to Raymond Chandler. Whether it’s his series featuring LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch or his acclaimed standalones introducing new protagonists, Connelly’s mix of engrossing plots, vividly-drawn characters and well-evoked settings (all sprinkled with wider issues) is loved by readers, critics, and literary awards judges worldwide. Full disclosure: I'm a long-time fan.
The fifteenth and latest Bosch novel, Nine Dragons, marks something of a shift in the series; not only is it arguably the most personal storyline yet for the embattled detective, but he also finds himself an ocean away from his LA home, battling to cope in a completely unfamiliar environment.
A seemingly straightforward case of an elderly Chinese liquour-store owner gunned down in South LA becomes far more dangerous when Bosch uncovers potential Triad involvement. After ignoring a warning to back off, Bosch receives a chilling message that spurs him to rush to Hong Kong. He’s now got to find not only a killer, but a kidnap victim; his own teenage daughter.
I wasn't quite sure what to think of this book. I like some of the freshness Connelly brings to the series, and Nine Dragons is another solid addition to the Connelly canon. Particularly early on, however, some of the dialogue and description fell short of his usual very high standards, and I found myself scratching my head. Things were intriguing and with a good narrative drive, and it was still very enjoyable. However as things move to Hong Kong, Nine Dragons quickly hits its stride and readers will find the pages whirring, and be glad they’re on another enjoyable adventure with one of the best-written detectives of modern times.
An ideal summer read, without being the first book in the Bosch series you'd recommend to someone new to Connelly.