Hieronymus Bosch (fifteenth century Dutch artist) is also a great name for a detective with the San Fernando police department and yet I come late to the Bosch phenomenon. Twenty one novels (so far) in the series by Michael Connelly and apparently one of the most watched original TV series on Amazon Prime (in its third season), somehow it had not penetrated the ‘Burfo-bubble’. So, I am indebted to an enlightened friend who loaned me his copy of “Two Kinds of Truth” (Intriguingly the latest in the series, published in 2017), as a useful start point. It proved a good call. Part murder mystery, part thriller, part courtroom drama, the novel galloped along like a Grisham/Baldacci mash-up. Still, Michael Connelly is clearly a skilled storyteller, with an eye for character that makes the eponymous ‘Harry’ Bosch an interesting, if somewhat enigmatic hero.
On this occasion Bosch straddles two investigations. A double homicide at a pharmacy will flare outwards from being local murders, to a symptom of wider organized crime and a challenge to the integrity of a historic case, which saw the detective allegedly consign an innocent man to fifteen years on death row. Thus, jeopardy to life and reputation rains down on Bosch, who must protect both victims and himself from the drenching impact of powerful malign forces.
A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the author utilizes a knowledge of criminal justice process and a journalistic nose for the sensational, to repeatedly hook the reader. But, while the dual plot is exciting and moves along at a breathless pace, it also provides some useful space to ponder Bosch the man and his selfless dedication to a very personal cause. I thoroughly enjoyed this very American novel. However, in what is a fairly crowded genre, for me, it is the central character that makes it stand apart. That I am minded to go back to the beginning of the book series is perhaps testament to some fine writing and my friend’s impeccable taste.