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Archive for the ‘Harry Bosch’ Category

LAPD Detective Renee Ballard was relegated to the ‘late show’, the midnight to 8 AM shift, after her allegation of sexual harassment against her supervisor, Lieutenant Olivas, was dismissed. Her former partner, Ken Chastain, did not back her up, although he saw the entire episode.
TheLateShow
On patrol with her new partner, Jenkins, one night they answer a robbery call in which an elderly woman fears that her credit card was stolen. Additionally they are called to the scenes of the brutal beating of a transgender prostitute and to a multiple shooting at a local club. Wile Jenkins is satisfied doing his eight hours and going home to his sick wife, Ballard is eager to perform real detective work and volunteers to officially pursue the robbery, while deciding to  investigate the other incidents on the sly, in the case of the shooting against Olivas’ direct order to ‘stay away’. Evidence prompts her to theorize that the shooter was a police officer and Ballard naturally assumes Olivas is the culprit…a dangerous path for her.
This is the start of a new police procedural series by Michael Connelly, creator of Harry Bosch. This lackluster entry pits the driven Ballard against a hostile Olivas. (I’m not going to say who wins.) An interesting character, Ballard is a tame female version of Bosch, caring and driven to finding the truth at all costs.
However, the quick and tidy solutions to the robbery and beating are anticlimactic. An early reference to Bosch was totally gratuitous. While the action builds in the second half, it is half-hearted.  while I’m sure Bosch and Connelly fans will clamor for Ballard, she’ll need a little more grit to survive.
P.S. It’s telling when the best character is Lola, the boxer mix dog that Ballard rescued!
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I’m not typically a western-country-mystery person, preferring the cityCrazyMountainKiss police procedurals-Harry Bosch, 87th Precinct, etc. When my mystery reading extends to the country, it’s typically the northeast, such as Archer Mayer’s Joe Gunther series in Vermont. But based on a journal recommendation I extended my reading geography to Montana and was pleasantly surprised with Crazy Mountain Kiss.

The Sean Stranahan detective series by Keith McCafferty was quite enjoyable. It certainly wasn’t gritty like Harry Bosch. I’d classify it as almost cozy. A down on his luck mystery author decides to leave L.A. for the solitude of an isolated cabin in Montana. It is April and cold so he decides to light the fireplace but smoke starts billowing into the cabin. Finding no flue lever in the cabin, he climbs up on the roof and looks down the chimney to find the blockage, which to his chagrin is a body…obviously dead.

The Hyalite County police are called in and police chief Martha Ettinger decides she needs the help of investigator Sean Stranahan who happens to be in Florida. He flies back and the small team begins the investigation. It turns out that the body is of a young girl, Cinderella Huntington, who had disappeared five months previous.

I liked the characters in Crazy Mountain Kiss. Ettinger and Stranahan had a ‘thing’ which Ettnger broke off, but neither are really over the other, so there’s some romantic tension. (Most every female character has the hots for Stranahan.) Loretta Huntington, Cindy’s mother, plays a major role as an “I won’t take no as an answer’ woman who has overcome a physical disability. The remainder of the police team are each unique and quirky.

There is some Indian folklore referenced in the book, which I found interesting. Also, some spirituality. Having lost three children, Etta has rejected formal religion for a more spiritual feeling and she is happy when she thinks that her children are in the heavens.

Crazy Mountain Kiss is a very satisfying read.

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June 1887 was one of the hottest and driest on record. AJuneOfOrdinaryMurdersNo breeze. No rain. Excessive heat. The city of Dublin was abuzz with activity, preparing for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Celebration and a visit by Princes Albert Victor and George. The Dublin police force was busy making sure the city was secure, with rarely a man to spare. It was Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow of the Dublin Metropolitan Police G-Division who, on Friday, June 17, caught the murder that took place in Chapelizod Gate. a young man in his twenties along side a young boy aged approximately 8-9 years old. They were shot at close range and their faces were marred to delay identity. With no identifying papers, identification could takes weeks.

It was three days later, on Monday, June 20, that a young girl, aged approximately 20 was found under a barge in the locks in the Grand Canal. Her head was bashed in and she was virtually unrecognizable. Could the three murders be related? Having botched a previous murder investigation, Swallow needs a quick and satisfactory conclusion to these murders. But of course, he is blocked on multiple fronts.

Brady’s debut novel is one of the best mysteries I’ve read this year. A combination of murder mystery and historical novel, he provides a reasonable explanation of the political situation in Dublin at the time…many Dubliners’ dissatisfaction with the Queen, the residue of the famine 40 years previous still impacting life in Ireland, the tensions between landowner and tenant farmer.

The 1880s also brought with it the beginnings of forensic investigation. There were experiments with facial reconstruction based on facial bones and muscles. Investigative technicians were able to determine whether a specific bullet came from a specific gun based on the grooves in the bullet. And the uniqueness of fingerprints was being researched. Crime scenes must be kept pure. (An early version of CSI?) Brady brings all of these into play in A June of Ordinary Murders.

He makes the extreme heat and discomfort palpable to the readers. Readers will feel like they are alongside Swallow, his ‘book man” Mossop (think Harry Bosch’s murder book), and fellow officers. Swallow is a mystery lover’s policeman. The law is the law and it must be obeyed, but he’ll stretch the limits of the law in order to get his man (and suffer the consequences…which we may see, if there’s a sequel, which I certainly hope there is). A June of Ordinary Murders was quite the satisfying read. I highly recommend it for all mystery lovers.

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Some things age to perfection. Would that it was Michael Connelly’sBurningRoom Harry Bosch series. The quality of the stories in this series range from great to not so great, with The Burning Room logging in somewhere around average. (This might be a good time to point out, though, that I’ve panned several mysteries recently that other journals have mysteriously (pun intended) lauded. So, you might take my opinion with a grain of salt.)

Bosch, a year and a half away from forced retirement, is working cold cases. He’s paired with relative newby, Lucia Soto, a heroine cop for being involved in a deadly shootout with armed robbers. A mariachi musician, Orlando Merced, who 10 years earlier was shot and paralyzed, has recently died and the cause was an infection directly caused by the bullet which was never removed, thus making it a homicide. An Hispanic mayoral candidate at the time,Armando Zeyas, used Merced in his campaign to illustrate the lack of police presence in the Latino neighborhoods and has now renewed the reward offer he made 10 years prior. There is little evidence to work with.

Soto has her own reasons for choosing Cold Cases. In 1989, as a young girl, she survived a fire in the derelict building that housed the illegal day care center she attended.  Nine people, mostly children, died in the fire. The fire, originally deemed accidental, was ultimately determined to have been arson. No one was ever charged with the crime. She convinces Bosch to review the case, off the record, since their assigned case is getting a lot of internal and media attention.

There’s not a lot of action in The Burning Room, but that’s not necessarily a detriment since it’s a police procedural…more plodding than action oriented. However, in my opinion there are way too many wide leaps, stretches to get from the initial murder investigation to the final outcome. The story line is OK, not overly compelling but not bad.

I like Lucy Soto as a new character, anxious to please, willing to learn from the master, but no dope either. If Connelly wants to create a new series around a Hispanic protagonist, Soto would be the person character, showing how she comes into her own as a result of working with Bosch.

I just get the feeling Connelly is getting tired of Bosch; getting a little stale. After 17 books, it may be time for something new.

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