WOW. That’s just one of the words I can use to describe what I felt after reading Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo. Now, I have heard about the author and his magnificent work on The Lincoln Lawyer but I haven’t seen the movie nor read the book. I decided to take a step back and look at his earlier work first. Connelly’s bread and butter is his Detective Harry Bosch series and after still having the sour taste in my mouth of what was a book called The Late Rain, I felt the need to read a genuine detective/mystery book. Well, I got my wish with The Black Echo. To sum it up in a few words, The Black Echo is what a classic detective mystery book should be like. You’ve got your main detective protagonist in Harry Bosch, lots of cigarette smoking, cops and FBI agents being mad at one another, villains who don’t reveal themselves till the end, shockers, car chases, dead bodies, gun fights, lots of police lingo’s and acronyms, and many witness interviews. “For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch — hero, maverick, nighthawk — the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal.
The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who fought side by side with him in a nightmare underground war that brought them to the depths of hell. Now, Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam.”
The Black Echo is our first introduction to the Harry Bosch series. Like many other series book or movie wise, that stars the same protagonist over and over again, I feel that one of the main goal of the author is to hook and draw the readers in on the very first book with a interesting and likable main character so that readers will return for more in the future. I really think Connelly did exactly that with The Black Echo. Harry Bosch is a good cop. However, there are many things in the police department that are bigger than just one cop alone. While you get the feeling that Bosch isn’t a dirty cop, you also get the sense that he’ll break the law secretly to get the information he wants. He’s a guy addicted to the case and mystery surrounding it and he won’t have a peace of mind until he solves it. You don’t get a lot of childhood stories about Bosch but you do get a lot of details about what he had to do in the war in Vietnam as a tunnel rat. I’m assuming the other details will be filled in as the series goes along.
There’s a good cast of characters in this book. You’ve got the laughable Lewis and Clarke “super agents” duo, Jerry Edgar who seems to be the complete opposite of Bosch when it comes to being a cop yet somehow manages to be his partner, FBI agent Eleanor Wish and last but not least, the kid witness who seems to be in the middle of it all. The characters aren’t what you would consider the most interesting you’ll read in a book but everything just sticks together so well due to the excellent story telling and writing by the author. Everything just seems so real, gritty and in your face. There’s not much filler here to my surprise. Or even if there were, they definitely didn’t feel dragged out. Everything Bosch does seems to have a purpose. What I also like about Bosch the most is his wits. The guy is pretty smart and it’s pretty exciting thinking about what he might do next or just to guess what he might be thinking about. Oh, and he can be pretty funny too at times.
As for the mystery element, it’s your standard affair stuff. Nothing earth shattering here as The Black Echo is one of those classic who-dun-it mystery books with surprises and plot twists along the way. I definitely like that style but the detective/mystery genre is just something I try hard to avoid reading two books in a row on. Once you get the formula down in your head, you’ll know what to expect from every other mystery book and that’s why I’ve decided to wait a bit before moving on to the next Harry Bosch novel no matter how good The Black Echo is. Also, I’m making a note to myself to avoid even reading the plot summary of future Harry Bosch novels in the series. I think that should make it that much more interesting. But whatever the case, I want to praise Michael Connelly as an author. If he’s already this good back in 1992, I have no doubt as to how good he is right now in the present. Of course, assuming he didn’t let the fame and money go to his head even though he definitely deserves to have both.