Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Review: THE CROSSING
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
Beyond reasonable doubt: Connelly's crafted one of the greatest character arcs of any long-running hero in crime fiction history
Hieronymous "Harry Bosch", the determined and resilient lone wolf of the LAPD, is at a loose end. He's suing his former employers after an acrimonious end to his rollercoaster police career, spending his days working on an old motorcycle, stumbling through romances, and contemplating the imminent departure of his daughter to college.
When his half-brother, notorious defense lawyer Mickey Haller, offers Bosch a one-off job helping with a murder case, he is torn. He misses the investigation, the hunt, but how could he ever 'cross over' to the dark side, putting his skills to use to try to keep a defendant from prison? What would his former colleagues think if he tossed aside a lifetime of putting the bad guys away to be a defense consultant? What would his daughter think, and how could Bosch ever live with himself?
Then again, if Haller's client really didn't do it, that means the real killer is still out there... and how could Bosch let that killer go free, just because the justice system thinks it has the right culprit already?
Crime readers first met Bosch, a Vietnam vet turned homicide cop, in 1992's The Black Echo. In eighteen novels, plus a few cameos in other books, the grizzled detective has become one of the greatest crime fiction characters of not just the modern era, but all time. One of the reasons for that is the way Connelly has no qualms about putting his hero in real jeopardy, challenging him not just in terms of crime storylines, but in terms of who he is as a person. Calamity looms emotionally and existentially as much as physically.
Harry Bosch is fully three-dimensional, talented but flawed, full of certainties and doubts, strengths and weaknesses that go beyond a cheap addiction or painful past. In among some thrilling storylines, we've come to appreciate Bosch on a number of levels, not just as an investigator, but a middle-aged man struggling to pick his way through a world full of political, personal, and professional landmines.
The Crossing can be enjoyed on many levels: there's the mystery of whether Haller's client is a perp or a victim: is he setting up Haller and Bosch, or is someone else setting him up? Just what's going on? Connelly does a great job crafting a gripping page-turner that has the reader fully engaged as we tour around his always well-drawn Los Angeles setting. There's plenty of action and intrigue. Then there's the character intrigue of watching Bosch grapple with his changing circumstances and the end of his police career. He's been left with a sour taste over the way things ended - how can he move on from that without losing himself?
Michael Connelly has never been afraid to age and evolve his popular hero. Rather than freezing Bosch in time or having the years go by glacially (a cheat used by some bestselling crime writers), Connelly's greatest creation gets older, and is affected by the accumulation of all that has happened to him and those he loves. It's reminiscent of the highest quality long-running television dramas, where characters retain their essence but also evolve over time, adding richness and texture year on year. Throw in the fact that we get plenty of Mickey Haller, another superb creation, in The Crossing, and Connelly has blasted it out of the park.
A tour de force from a modern master; one of the best crime reads of the year.