The Black Echo (Michael Connelly)

(This is an audiobook review, since I am in the habit of listening to books far more than I read them.  If you want to know a few reasons why, read this.)

The Black Echo is the first book in the Harry Bosch detective series.  It was Connelly’s debut novel, published in 1992–years before I first exercised my writing instincts by copying a few pages of Tolkien’s The Hobbit verbatim.  (More on that another time.)

You wouldn’t think it was a debut novel.  The writing is crisp and uncluttered, the dialogue sharp (especially the gestures and visual cues), and the plot intricate without being confusing.  The book clocks in at 13 hours, 49 minutes (or 496 pages, depending on the edition), but seemed much shorter to me.  It was one of the few books that did not make me restless somewhere in the middle of the story.

Harry Bosch is a maverick, a loner, a cynic.  It’s a character template that has become increasingly common, especially in today’s detective stories, but was probably not as familiar in the 90’s.  He relies on his instincts and his sharp attention to detail to pick up on clues that others miss, and you’ll find yourself mentally sorting through the story’s many clues right along with Bosch.

A recurring element of the story is the Vietnam War, which is featured several times in flashbacks.  As the plot develops, so does our exploration of Bosch’s character and background.  He may not be a guy you would like to work with in real life, but he’s sure entertaining to read about.

So should you read this book?  If you enjoy detective stories and police procedurals, I think you’ll like this one.  I bought it as a two-for-one deal on Audible, so I’ll be reading The Black Ice next.  The narrator, Dick Hill, did a great job–I especially enjoyed how his voice changed when he was imitating a character speaking on the telephone or the radio.  If there was one gripe I had, I suppose I wished the story spent a bit more time exploring its theme and developing its philosophy.  But you can judge that for yourself if you read it.

That’s it for my review.  If you are looking for stars, I’ll give it an 8/10.  Solid.

And if you like this one, there are 17 more in the series for you to explore.

Excuse me while I go start listening to The Black Ice.

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