Month: November 2009

The Black Echo

black echoI finished this book in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Michael Connelly’s “The Black Echo.” I have no idea why I picked it, kinda felt like I was in the mood for some crime and detectives and what have you. Stepped away from science fiction for a minute. Anyway, the synopsis is: For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland dam is more than another anonymous statistic. The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat.” Joining with an enigmatic female FBI agent, pitted against enemies within his own department, Bosch must make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, as he tracks down a killer whose true face will shock him.

It is the first book in the Harry Bosch series, I am uncertain if it was Michael Connelly’s first. It was published in 1992. I am always quite a bit more lenient with my reviews when I know its the first book in a series or a debut novel. I realize it takes time to develop a character and that the author learns more as he goes. That being said, there were whole sections of the book that weren’t “bad,” but they weren’t all that interesting. And perhaps its the topic. Bosch does have reflections on his time in Vietnam, and while those sections are not tedious or poorly written, they bore me. I am sick of “heroes” from pasts in Nam. The book doesn’t move very quickly and, quite honestly, there is very little suspense. This is not edge-of-your seat riveting.

The ending has a twist. It was not all that surprising. It surprised me a little only because I am always surprised by such things in movies and books. I guess an astute crime-fiction/police procedural reader would have picked it up in the first quarter of the book. I felt that the actual bad-guy’s motives were not really all that strong. Revenge and justice make sense, yes, but not enough for all of this. I don’t know. It was somewhat sloppily tied together – not compelling.

Bosch is a pretty good character, I hope the rest of the time we do not have to dredge up the Vietnam history stuff. He smokes like a damned chimney, though. I almost couldn’t breathe from all the “third-hand” smoke coming through the pages. I did like the little symbolism given to us between Bosch and the painting. That was something I could appreciate.

I do intend to read more of Connelly.

3 stars

Deja Dead

deja-deadI finished Kathy Reich’s Deja Dead.  It was the first book she’s written, and involves the character Temperance Brennan.  Brennan is also the star character of the TV show “Bones,” but the character in the novel and in the TV series are entirely different. Their only similarity is that they are both forensic scientists.

It was written in 1997.  The quick synopsis:  In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in NorthCarolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern — and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her — her best friend and her own daughter — in mortal danger.

Reichs has a different-from-the-norm writing style that is fairly engaging. She’s easy to read because of it. I am not sure what to call it, but it involves short, clip phrases, dry wit, etc.  Some reviews I read took issue with this. Its not so bad, once you get used to it. The story is told in the first-person from Brennan’s perspective, so the dry wit seems to come from her. As a character, this Brennan is not the fantastique character in the TV series, but is still an interesting and curious character. Brennan is a Southerner who moves north to French-speaking Montreal to work in a facility there.

Reviews also complained about the use of French in the book – that it takes place in Montreal, the characters naturally would be speaking both English and French, but why is there so much French in the book itself?  People who wrote reviews like this are whiners.  The French is easily available via context, and frankly, most of the words are common usage anyway. It adds a definite Montreal flavor to the story, which I appreciated.

There are a lot of characters in the book. At first I felt the main character was going to be Brennan and Sgt. Luc Claudel. However, in the middle of the book or so, I began to see less of Claudel and more of Ryan.  Then Brennan’s friend Gabby takes up a few chapters, and I thought Gabby was going to be a major focus…. alas, the supporting characters are all jumbled together – none takes THE lead. There are probably a few too many characters in the book – too much for the author to properly handle. The murders in the book are gruesome and gory. (To be expected, of course.) They are described with some detail and are a bizarre enough to make the reader wonder if Reichs was trying to be over-the-top crazy with the murders.

I thought the killer was someone different than it turned out to be. There was a false clue in the story (probably on purpose) that I suspected. The ending isn’t all that satisfying, but first novels rarely are and these are just pulp fiction descendants. I would read Reichs again (just not directly after having eaten.)

3 stars