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The Scarecrowby Michael Connelly
Synopses & Reviews
Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.
He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.
Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar — and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.
"Bestseller Connelly comments on the plight of print journalism in a nail-biting thriller featuring reporter Jack McEvoy, last seen in 2004's The Narrows. When Jack is laid off from the L.A. Times with 14 days' notice to tie up loose ends, he decides to go out with a bang. What starts as a story about the wrongful arrest of a young gangbanger for the brutal rape and murder of an exotic dancer turns out to be just the tip of an iceberg that takes McEvoy from the Nevada desert to a futuristic data-hosting facility in Arizona. FBI agent Rachel Walling, with whom he worked on a serial killer case in 1996's The Poet, soon joins the hunt, but as the pair uncover more about the killer and his unsettling predilections, they realize that they too are being hunted. With every switch between McEvoy's voice and the villain's, Connelly ratchets up the tension. This magnificent effort is a reminder of why Connelly is one of today's top crime authors. 8-city author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Stop the presses! There's a serial killer on the loose in the new Michael Connelly novel, "The Scarecrow"! Hold on for even more sinister news: There are practically no presses left to stop! Such is the grisly work of an altogether different kind of serial killer, the unconventional fiend of Connelly's latest thriller. Call it the Internet, the Corporate Bottom Line... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) or the Dumbed-Down Spirit of the Age. It's an amorphous ghoul on a rampage, gutting our major American dailies of reporters and content. The corpses of once proud newspapers lie piled up in the shadowy corners of Connelly's novel, which opens with the ongoing evisceration of the Los Angeles Times. Sure, the human serial killer grabs the headlines for most of this exquisitely plotted story: He's a standard-issue sicko who murders women and cleverly stages the crime so that an innocent man takes the rap. But the most inspired feature of "The Scarecrow" is that it's also a meditation on the consequences of the death of print journalism. What a difference 13 years makes. Back then, Jack McEvoy was a restless young crime reporter for the Rocky Mountain News. Here's Jack describing his daily research routine at the opening of Connelly's terrific 1996 novel, "The Poet": "Stacked on my desk next to the computer was a foot-high pile of newspapers. This was my main source material for stories. I subscribed to every daily, weekly and monthly newspaper published from Pueblo north to Bozeman. I scoured these for small stories on killings that I could turn into long take outs. There were always a lot to choose from." Now Jack returns in "The Scarecrow," and the intervening years have not been kind. Sure, he got a book deal out of his deadly game of wits with the serial killer known as the Poet, and his fame propelled him to a star reporter's job at the L.A. Times, but Jack in middle age is a disappointed fellow. His one brief marriage ended in divorce; he's still carrying an Olympic-size torch for Rachel Walling, the lovely FBI agent who saved his neck in "The Poet"; and, at the beginning of this novel, he's just gotten the ax from a paper obsessed with downsizing. According to Jack, reporters used to call the L.A. Times "The Velvet Coffin" because it was "a place to work so pleasurable that you would easily slip in and stay till you died. With the constant changes of ownership and management, the layoffs, and the ever-dwindling staff and budget, the place was now becoming more of a pine box." Jack swallows his pride and accepts management's offer to stave off his departure by two weeks if he'll train his own replacement, a glamorous blonde fresh out of journalism school. But in the course of working with her on a joint profile of a teenage killer and his victim, Jack realizes the kid, rotten as he may be, didn't commit the murder. Instead, a serial killer is loose — one with a predilection for wrapping his female victims in plastic and stuffing them in the trunks of cars. The plot of "The Poet" turned on a ruse involving a fax machine; in "The Scarecrow," the macabre netherworld of the Internet takes center stage. One of the most genuinely "I-forgot-to-breathe" scenes in this novel occurs when Jack, during a car trip into the Nevada desert, is electronically hunted and cut off from the outside world by the killer, who's adept at breaching computer passwords and canceling phone accounts and credit cards. With its ingenious story line and the twisted brilliance of the creeps involved, "The Scarecrow" holds its own with its predecessor, which was a breakthrough novel for Connelly. By the end, the Internet has served as an agent of both evil and redemption — even for Jack, who moves on to a Web site reporting gig. But while the bodies of the victims targeted by the monster known as the Scarecrow fade into hard-boiled oblivion, the husks of once-vital newspapers hollowed out by the Electronic Revolution continue to rattle forlornly in the wind. Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan, who is the book critic for the NPR program 'Fresh Air' and teaches a course in detective fiction at Georgetown University, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Alternating point of view between villain and reporter, Connelly builds tension expertly, using dramatic irony to its fullest, screw-tightening potential. Even confirmed Harry Bosch fans will have to admit that this Harry-less novel is one of Connelly's very best." Booklist (starred review)
"Michael Connelly is one of modern pulp fiction's most skilled, prolific authors....The Scarecrow isn't some tongue-clucking cautionary tale, but at the same time, Connelly's detailed depiction of journalism under siege is as vivid and frightening as any murder plot. (Grade: B+)" The Onion AV Club
"This Bosch adventure is a great read that can't be put down. Harry's getting on in years but is still a great detective." San Jose Mercury News
"Connelly has done it again....The newspaper industry is on the verge of collapse these days, and ex-newspaperman Connelly here tackles the subject head-on while juggling an intricate mystery at the same time....
"[R]ip-roaring crime fiction that hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the finale. Connelly is one of the most consistent of today's crime fiction writers. The Scarecrow ranks among Connelly's best work." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"With its ingenious story line and the twisted brilliance of the creeps involved, The Scarecrow holds its own with its predecessor [The Poet], which was a breakthrough novel for Connelly." The Washington Post
"The Scarecrow, a return to form for Mr. Connelly and his sharpest book since The Lincoln Lawyer, pivots energetically among its subplots, often returning affectionately to the newspaper world." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
About the Author
A former Los Angeles Times crime reporter, Michael Connelly's familiarity with the seamy side of L.A. adds a steamy kind of street cred to his hardboiled, gritty detective novels — especially his bestselling series of mysteries featuring dark detective Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch.
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