MICHAEL CONNELLY – The Concrete Blonde. Harry Bosch #3. Little Brown, hardcover, 1994. St. martin’s, paperback, 1995. Reprinted many times.

   Connelly won a Best First Novel Edgar for The Black Echo, the first book about LAPD detective and ex-tunnel rat Hieronymus (“Harry”) Bosch, and followed it with a second Bosch tale that I thought was even better. Third time charmed?

   Harry is on trial. He’s being sued by the widow of a man he shot and killed four years ago while attempting to arrest him as a serial killer. Now the civil suit claims he acted imprudently, but there’s worse to come. An anonymous note is delivered to the police claiming that Bosch killed the wrong man, and that the serial killer is alive, well, and in operation — and it directs them to a body to prove it.

   Harry is convinced that the man he killed was guilty, which would mean that there is a copycat killer. But is he right? And if he is, how does the copycat know what he knows about the original killings?

   Meanwhile in the courtroom, the attorney for the plaintiff is making hash of Bosch;s incompetent City Attorney, and she, too, seems to know things she shouldn’t, particularly about the copycat.

   To answer my opening question, yes, I think so. I’ve thought Connelly’s writing powerful from the start but had a few minor reservations about his plotting, particularly in the first book. I have no such problems here. He knows how to tell a story, and this is not a given among today’s crime novelists. Bosch is a strong character, and the supporting cast is drawn in enough depth to fill the roles creditably.

    The Concrete Blonde moves Connelly into the top rank, if you hadn’t already placed him there.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #12, March 1994.