Mark Billingham and I discussed The Crossing on the second edition of The Crime Vault Live podcast (you can link to that here); we both loved it. Mark said he thought Connelly was the most consistent crime writer in America. It was funny, because I said pretty much the same thing, that Bosch was the strongest series being written by anyone, but that was when I first reviewed Connelly in the Spectator more than 20 years ago. They used that quote as a blurb on a number of his books. What's amazing is that he's maintained that level of quality for such a long time.
This one is a Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller novel; Bosch has lost his job on the LAPD, as detailed in the previous Bosch novel, and Haller is representing him in his wrongful dismissal suit. But Haller also has a client named Da'Quan Foster, who's accused of a particularly violent home-invasion rape and murder, of an LA sherrif's wife. Although the state has DNA evidence they claim links Foster to the crime, he insists he's innocent. And Haller, who's not always worried about whether his clients are innocent or not, for some reason believes him, and wants Harry to check it out.
Bosch isn't ready to cross to the dark side, as it were, risking the severance of all his ties with his colleagues and friends. But if Haller's aim is to clear his client, Harry's aim is always to get at the truth. And when he finds an expensive watch case with no watch, he starts to wonder where the truth might lay. Relentlessly, painstakingly, Bosch breaks down the case bit by bit, the pieces slowly taking shape into something coherent, and very dangerous.
Nobody writes police procedurals as well as Connelly. You don't have to have followed Bosch for the quarter of a century he's been doing this; you don't need to know his past and have deep background to understand his character. Connelly's skill is that he writes as a reporter, and he gives you the details you need not just to follow the plot, but to understand the characters, and at his best, as he is here, you find that understanding melds with the understanding of the story.
Harry and Haller are half-brothers; their daughters are the same age, and will be going to the same college, another sort of crossing. As is Harry's forced retirement, and perhaps his personal life, though I don't want to risk a spoiler there—long time readers know better than to expect romantic happiness for Bosch. Mark and I discussed the character, with Mark saying he now sees Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch in the excellent Amazon series, when he's reading. But my Bosch is different. I've always seen, right from the start, someone more like Hammett's Continental Op, crossed perhaps with Gene Hackman, the one from Night Moves maybe. He's as good as they get, and that's because Michael Connelly is as good as it gets.
The Crossing by Michael Connelly
Orion, £19.99 ISBN 9781409145523
This review will also appear at Crime Time (www.crimetime.co.uk)