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Saturday, September 23rd, 2006
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Echo Park (Harry Bosch)

by Michael Connelly

Forget It, Harry, It's Echo Park.

A review by Chris Bolton

Following on the heels of The Closers, Echo Park revisits similar thematic material as Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch is drawn back to another cold case, this one an unsolved murder and kidnapping from the '90s that has haunted him ever since. Bosch has even gotten into trouble for periodically "checking up" on his number-one suspect, the son of a millionaire who can afford to buy his way out of almost anything. Now, however, the District Attorney believes he has found the culprit: a sadistic serial killer named Raynard Waits who confessed to the crime as part of his plea bargain. Never having run across Waits in his investigation, Bosch is understandably skeptical... until evidence turns up that Bosch and his then-partner had the killer and unwittingly let him go.

With guilt and rage clouding his feelings, Bosch becomes part of a team that leads Waits into the woods to find the body. This section is the centerpiece of the novel, and it's a show-stopper. Its breathless unraveling draws much-deserved attention to Connelly's storytelling skill. I was reminded more than once of the climactic sequence in Seven, which this one rivals for nearly unbearable suspense.

Like all the best detective fiction, Echo Park dwells in regret, using the past as a dark backdrop to its present-day storyline. Already one of the more memorable modern series characters in crime fiction, Bosch's anguish over his past missteps fuels his determination to right his wrong -- and, most intriguingly (and humanly), blinds him to his present mistakes.

There is no finer writer of crime fiction working than Connelly. The proof is in the pages -- or, more precisely, how quickly they swim past. Echo Park is the sort of book you wait to read on a Friday, lest you wind up calling in sick to work to finish it.

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