Saturday, 22 October 2011


The Drop pits Harry Bosch against an acronym; the drop in this case referring to Deferred Retirement Option Plan. When Bosch was brought back onto LAPD and assigned to the Open-Unsolved Unit, he knew it would be for a limited time, but now he's hoping to get the maximum extra time allowed before being forced to retire. But as usual with Michael Connelly and with Bosch, there are ambiguities: The Drop might also refer to the drops of blood from a long-unsolved rape-murder which provide a link with a convicted rapist—only he was only eight years old at the time. If someone messed up with the DNA, any number of convictions could be overturned as a result.

Or The Drop might the dive taken by LA political fixer George Irving, found dead beneath the balcony of the room he'd just taken at the Chateau Marmont. Did he fall? Did he jump? Was he pushed? Irving's father is Irvin Irving, a city councilman whose enmity Harry earned when they were both on the force. Irving's now a thorn in the LAPD's side, but he wants Harry as the investigator, and so does the Chief: putting Harry in his usual position between a rock and hard drop.

If that sounds relatively complicated, rest assured it is. George Irving made his living peddling his father's influence, and he was involved in fixing a city licence for taxi services, and might have bent a cop or two to do it. Harry's former partner Kiz now works in the chief's office, and the politics of the department's battle with Irvin Irving lurk over every move Harry makes. The two cases are not connected, but as Harry investigates the rapist whose DNA was identified, now living in a halfway house, he becomes involved with one of the workers there, someone who believes people can be helped to change, that evil is not a permanent state of being. Someone who brings a palette of grays to Harry's more black and white, or shall we say noirish, world.

That has always been the strong point of the Bosch novels, the way that Connelly can meld the format of the police procedural with the noirish, if not hard-boiled, detective. Because Bosch works outside the subtleties and compromises of politics, he fights against his own demons, which tend to make those on his side, but without his morals, almost as guilty as the criminals he chases.

The Drop is Bosch at his complex best, and if anything Connelly weaves a web so tight that the series of revelations at novels end function like a stone skipping across water—and leave enough uncertainty about Harry's future to make his own drop, or Drop, ambiguous. It's Connelly at his best, and there aren't many better.

The Drop by Michael Connelly
Orion, £18.99 ISBN 9781409134282

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