MICHAEL CONNELLY – The Last Coyote. Harry Bosch #4. Little Brown, hardcover, 1995. St. Martin’s, paperback, 1996.

   Connelly is without question one of the most highly regarded crime writers of the nineties. That his 1994’s The Concrete Blonde was not shortlisted for an Edgar tells you all you need to know about the MWA’s awards process.

   He wouldn’t be Harry if he didn’t have troubles. His house has been condemned because of earthquake damage, his lover has left him, he’s drinking too much,and he’s been suspended and forced to see the Department psychiatrist because he shoved a superior officer’s face through a window. A closed one.

   His remedy? To investigate the murder of his mother, unsolved (covered up?) when she was killed over 30 years ago. Old bones, buried secrets, and a road that could lead either to redemption of or the bottom of the long slide.

   Connelly’s strengths are to me a little harder to analyze than those of some. There’s no one facet of his writing that says, “Here’s a Connelly book.” The primary appeal is the character of Harry himself, I guess, but Connelly is the complete package — his prose is excellent, his pacing outstanding, and the characters other than Harry quite go.

   His only weakness for me has been his plotting, but that has improved with each book. And this is a particularly good book, deepening the characterization and conveying a sustained mood of darkness and desperation. But then, Harry and his tales never were rays of sunshine, were they?

   Connelly is one of the better.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #18, February-March 1995.