Sat 18 Mar 2017
MICHAEL CONNELLY – The Black Echo. Harry Bosch #1. Little Brown, hardcover, 1992. St. Martin’s, paperback, 1993. Reprinted many times since.
The Black Echo won that year’s Edgar for Best First Novel, and it’s no wonder. It’s a great book, one that will suck you right in, starting with Chapter One, and keep you reading until it’s over. Not that you’re likely to read it in one sitting. It’s over 500 oversized pages of small print in the current premium paperback edition, and it took me almost a week of grabbing it up at bedtime and reading as long as I could keep my eyes open.
It starts out with Bosch, now working for the Hollywood Station of the LAPD, being called in to check out a dead body found in a concrete pipe near Mulholland Dam, and it doesn’t quit until he’s closed a case involving an attempted break into a security vault in Beverly Hills.
The connection? Tunnels. Bosch knew the dead man back in Viet Nam, where they were tunnels rats together, days that haunt him memories still. Working with him on the case for most of the book is a comely FBI agent named Eleanor, whose brother never returned from Nam and with whom he finds a certain, shall we say, extracurricular rapport. On his trail and tracking every move he makes are two cops from Internal Affairs named Lewis and Clarke; Bosch is the kind of guy who goes his own way, and his previous big case caused him a lot of problems, including both a suspension and a transfer.
As I say, this is long book and the story is very involved, and this brief summary doesn’t do it the justice it deserves. There is one long conversation that one villain has with Bosch when the former thinks he has the situation well under control, but doesn’t. Otherwise, for a first time writer, Connelly had very sure hands at the typewriter when he wrote this one. I don’t think there’s anything in it that’s trail breaking, but both the author and the character caught a lot of people’s fancy at the time, and they still do today. You can put my name on the list.