Saturday, September 2, 2017

Review: TWO KINDS OF TRUTH

TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly (Orion, 31 October 2017)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Harry Bosch is back as a volunteer working cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department and is called out to a local drug store where a young pharmacist has been murdered. Bosch and the town's 3-person detective squad sift through the clues, which lead into the dangerous, big business world of pill mills and prescription drug abuse.

Meanwhile, an old case from Bosch's LAPD days comes back to haunt him when a long-imprisoned killer claims Harry framed him, and seems to have new evidence to prove it. Bosch left the LAPD on bad terms, so his former colleagues aren't keen to protect his reputation. He must fend for himself in clearing his name and keeping a clever killer in prison.

Twenty-five years ago gruff LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch first burst onto the page, investigating the murder of a fellow Vietnam ‘tunnel rat’ in a drainpipe in Mulholland Dam. 

He was already middle-aged then, a maverick not because he was a youthful upstart, but a man in his early 40s who had a very strong sense of who he was and what was important to him. To Harry Bosch, it's people who matter, the victims and finding justice, more than the rules and systems of his superiors. 

Then and now, Bosch lived by the credo 'everybody counts or nobody counts', and felt his mission to find justice for victims deep down in his bone marrow. 

Plenty of murky water has flowed under the bridge in the quarter-century since The Black Echo. Nowadays, Bosch is a volunteer for the tiny San Fernando PD, spending his days in a converted jail cell combing over cold cases then getting out on the streets to investigate, unable to give up being ‘a closer’ even if the LAPD has jettisoned him and he now qualifies for Social Security. 

Various elements from his past come calling in Two Kinds of Truth, a marvellous tale that clearly demonstrates that shows Bosch and Connelly, two of the very best at what they do, are both still at the very top of their considerable game. 

There's a lovely mix of familiarity and freshness - a tough balance to strike in a long-running series: give long-time readers what they've loved over many books plus something new, but not so new or 'out of the box' that it jolts or feels try-hard or 'wrong' in a world carefully created over many years. 

Connelly squarely hits that difficult sweet spot in Two Kinds of Truth

While mulling a cold case disappearance and probable murder that still haunts his new boss in the San Fernando PD, Bosch finds out that one of his own old cases has reared back into ugly life. 

New DNA evidence links a dead rapist to a vicious killing that resulted in a young Bosch helping put another man on death row. Now that 'innocent' man might be released, but Bosch is certain he was right, then and now. As those in power look to throw Bosch under the bus for what could become a massive, and costly, legal mess, he also heads down a deadly path investigating a double-murder at a local farmacia alongside his SFPD colleagues, who aren’t used to this kind of crime.

Connelly masterfully balances the twin investigations, past and present, providing a rollicking story for new readers and long-time fans. Several ‘guest stars’ from past books make a welcome return, underlining the holistic fictional LA world Connelly has crafted over a quarter-century. 

Add in Harry Bosch, approaching septuagenarian status, still facing fresh challenges and being put to new tests externally and internally despite his vast experience, and that equals one of the all-time great crime series continuing to grow its greatness. Perhaps the Pappy Van Winkle of modern crime? 

Note: this book is not published until 31 October 2017, and I usually wouldn't post a review so far in advance, but I received an ARC yesterday, read it immediately, and was so impressed I just had to share my thoughts straight away. Head to your favourite bookshop, brick and mortar or online, and pre-order a copy. You won't regret it.  

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features and reviews for a wide range of magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed almost 200 mystery writers, discussed crime writing onstage at festivals in Europe and Australasia, and on national radio and top podcasts. He has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, the McIlvanney Prize, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can find him on Twitter: @craigsisterson

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