Audiobook Review: The Drop by Michael Connelly

4 01 2012

The Drop by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch, Book 17)

Read by Len Cariou

Hachette Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 55 Min

Genre: Crime Fiction

Quick Thoughts: The Drop is Connelly at his best, which is like watching a sports legend pull off a career game well after it has been established just how good he is. Its mysteries are satisfying, the characters complex, and has a well plotted fascinating ending that will both excite and sadden the reader.

Grade: A

It seems every year, when I consider my favorite books of the year, somewhere on that list, a Michael Connelly book appears. In 2010, The Reversal topped my list. In 2011 it was The Fifth Witness rounding out my top 5. Although both of these books were Mickey Haller books, the presence of Connelly’s best and most famous character Harry Bosch added a lot to the overall tale. I have been a huge Harry Bosch fan for years, and always look forward to his appearance in any book, no matter the size of the role. The strange thing is I don’t read many police procedurals. Most of the thriller series I read are either legal thrillers, private detective stories, or some other person in some other job who just so happens to get themselves into some sort of trouble every year around the same time. I mean, how many surly cops, who have trouble taking orders from the brass, getting along with others in the department, and who always finds themselves on the wrong side of powerful people can we read about? I guess for me, it’s one. Yet, if you are going to choose one, you might as well choose one by Michael Connelly, who, I believe, is the best procedural writer out there. 

The Drop, if not a return to form, is really a return to structure for Michael Connelly and his character Harry Bosch. In the Mickey Haller novels, Bosch rarely drives the action, just influences it along the way, and in the previous Harry Bosch-centric novel, Harry is forced out of his comfort zone of the LAPD and Los Angeles area by truly personal events. Now, Bosch is back waiting for cases to open up in the Open-Unsolved Unit, when he is finally tasked by his Lieutenant to look into a case with potential to embarrass the LAPD and the crime lab. Yet, while working this case, Bosch is summoned by the Police Chief to take on a case ripe with political "High Jingo."  Bosch is made the lead on a case involving a suicide of a man who just happens to be the son of City Councilman Irv Irving. Bosch is leery of the case, being that he and Irving had a history of antagonism going back nearly Harry’s entire career. All this leads to a classic Harry Bosch investigation and one of the best entries in this series in a while. The Drop works because Connelly is true to his character. Bosch is aging, and Connelly acknowledges that, as well as the fact that Bosch has now become the full time parent of his teenage daughter. These changes has allowed Connelly to develop Bosch is ways long time readers may not expect, while maintaining his overall integrity, which, in all honesty, can be a little frustrating at times. Connelly pulls off what very few writers can, balancing two mysteries that interact but don’t intertwine, yet doing it effectively. The Drop is Connelly at his best, which is like watching a sports legend pull off a career game well after its been established just how good he is. Its mysteries are satisfying, the characters complex, and has a well plotted fascinating ending that will both excite and sadden the reader.

I have said before that while I feel Len Cariou wonderfully performs the voice of Harry Bosch in the recent audiobook versions, I have issues with other areas of his delivery. His reading of the narrative can be too meticulously deliberate, with a bit of a slur that you can feel him fighting back. Some of his other characters, particularly the younger men and female characters are just a bit rough. Yet, I should point out that I am a minority here in this opinion. Most people I have talked to enjoy Cariou’s narration and feel any sort of deficiency is more than made up for by the authenticity he brings to Harry. Even with my personal issues, this is a highly listenable audiobook and the story sucks you in so well, you tend to forget what was bothering you in the first place. The Drop is another winner for Michael Connelly, with the biggest downside being that I will have to wait until November for his next novel, Black Box.





Audiobook Review: Suicide Run/Angle of Investigation by Michael Connelly

30 12 2011

Suicide Run/Angle of Investigation by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch Short Stories)

Read by Len Cariou

Hachette Audio

Length:

Suicide Run: 3 Hrs 17 Min

Angle of Investigation: 2 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Crime Fiction

Quick Thoughts: These short stories are the perfect fix for Harry Bosch fans waiting between full length releases.

Grade: B

I’m not really sure why I like Harry Bosch so much. Typically, he’s not the type of character I really like. He is an aging police detective who is outwardly and inwardly gruff, loves jazz, doesn’t really play well with people, and has a lot of integrity. On paper, he seems almost like a caricature of modern fictions view of a Police Detective. Yet, somehow he is one of my favorite literary characters. Having to wait for my library copy of the newest Harry Bosch thriller by Michael Connelly, I decided to give the recent short story collections a listen.

Hachette Audio released two, three story short story collects, called Suicide Run and Angle of Investigation. As you should expect, being unconnected short stories, these tales don’t have the depth of character and complex plotting typical of Connelly’s work. Yet, in my opinion, Connelly is one of the best procedural writers in the business, and these short stories are proof of that. We get to see young Bosch on his first Dead Body call, follow Bosh as he grills suspects in the interrogation room, and see his thought process as he investigates what at first glance looks like a suicide. My favorite stories of the collections where "Cielo Azul" where Bosch reflects on the crimes of a brutal serial killer who is on Death Row and "Angle of Investigation” where Bosch revives the cold case of a call he took as a boot (a trainee patrol officer). These short stories are the perfect fix for Harry Bosch fans waiting between full length releases.

For many people, Len Cariou is the definitive voice of Bosch. I’ll admit, I am not a huge fan of Len Cariou’s narration. I personally prefer when Dick Hill narrated the Harry Bosch series, or even Adam Grupper and Peter Giles narration in the Mickey Haller series. Cariou does a great job voicing Harry, I just find he narrative delivery to be too deliberate and his voicing of peripheral characters especially female characters, to be shaky. Yet, these short stories fall well into Cariou’s wheelhouse, focusing on Bosch without a lot of female characters. So, despite any general issues with the narration, these audiobooks short stories work well.