After listening to Night Fall on the way to Michigan a few weeks back, the missus and I decided to listen to two shorter books on the way home: Echo Park by Michael Connelly and C Is For Corpse by Sue Grafton which I will be reviewing shortly. Both books are in a series featuring mystery solvers, both were easy for us to jump into and both kept us entertained on our long drive home.
Echo Park is a Harry Bosch novel, he’s a cop in California. As I mentioned, I’ve never read a book starring him, let alone any of Connelly’s other creations, but overall I found the mystery to be both intriguing, smartly put together and thrilling. After watching, reading and listening to a lot of mysteries, I’m starting to get a few of the sub-genres. Some mysteries feature the smoking gun in the first few chapters and it’s up to the solver to figure out who it is. A lot of procedural TV shows seem to follow this model. The problem I find with these kinds of stories is that it involves the killer or criminal to become an actor on the level of Hollywood’s best. I can see that happening every now and then, but not with the regularity that television tells me people get murdered. The kind of mystery I like even more happens to be the kind that Connelly wrote with Echo Park, the kind where the solver–in this case an actual detective–uses his skills, resources and intuition to figure out what happened.
In the case of Echo Park, a man found with two corpses in his van admits to killing a woman several years ago. The older case was one of Bosch’s and it’s the one he never solved but always irked him. He had a suspect all his own, a rich guy’s son, but lawyers and a lack of hard evidence kept him away. As the case gets reopened, Bosch wants to believe this killer, he wants to believe that the killer got caught, but something inside him knows it’s not the case. SPOILER Even when the killer leads him and a group of other officials to the grave.
That actually happens about halfway through the book, so I’m not sure if it technically qualifies as a spoiler, especially when it was so incredibly obvious that it was going to happen. See, the killer told his captors that he couldn’t tell them where the body was, but could lead them to it. You know right away that this will lead to trouble and probably an escape and SPOILER, that’s exactly what happens. So, with the killer on the lose, it’s up to Bosch to help figure out who he really is and where he might be hiding. It turns out that the killer is pretty close to a Batman villain. He’s crazy and cold and over the top and even has a murder lair. Bosch figures out who he is, where he is and gets some important information.
But that’s not the end of the story. From there he has to unravel how the killer knew about his cold case, who set everything into motion and what exactly is going on. I won’t get into the details, but I liked how complicated and yet kind of obvious the whole thing was. It made perfect sense and yet wasn’t the kind of thing that was calling attention to itself too early on, but clearly there from the beginning. I also liked that Bosch made a wrong assumption when it came to who might have been involved. I like how these guys and women always use their intuition, but that doesn’t mean it should always be right.
Again, like Night Fall, Echo Park was a great story that kept us entertained and even thrilled. The last few scenes in the killer’s lair are pretty intense. This got us from Michigan through Ohio and maybe a little bit into Pennsylvania which is no small accomplishment. We appreciate your service Echo Park! Are there any Harry Bosch (his name made us giggle every time) fans out there? What other books in his series should we check out?