Harry Bosch is still working cold cells, his office a converted cell at the San Fernando PD. But when the small town is hit by a double murder at a pharmacy, Harry’s experience means he becomes the primary on the case, which he quickly realises is not just a brutal killing attached to a random robbery. But just before the murders were called in, Bosch had been visited by an old LAPD partner Lucia Soto, accompanied by a DA and an investigator from the departments new Conviction Integrity Unit. Preston Borders, a sex killer Bosch had put away thirty years ago has petitioned for a new trial, based on the confession of another criminal to his lawyer. As the other man is now dead, the lawyer came forward, and a recheck of the evidence discovered new DNA evidence which backs up the confession. And if someone else killed Danielle Skyler, Bosch must have framed Borders with the evidence that did convict him.
Two Kinds Of Truth is Michael Connelly’s second novel released this year, following The Late Show, which marked the debut of a new cop character, Renee Ballard. I wrote that Connelly’s books are character-driven, though never shrinking as police procedurals, and often in the Bosch series resembling hand-boiled detective stories as well. I also noticed, in the previous Bosch novel, The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, the way Connelly’s weaving together of two complex stories became driven by plot—which I thought might reflect the different approach to writing the Bosch TV series. This novel’s two stories aren’t as complex, nor as deeply-layered as The Wrong Side Of Goodbye’s were, but they are also, in a sense plot-driven. The pharmacy killings lead to a more serious drugs case, and Harry winds up going undercover to get to the bottom of the prescription opioid racket. Meanwhile, Harry hires his half-brother Mickey Haller to defend him in the re-opened murder case, which turns into a courtroom drama, and most interestingly, one based on what is, in effect, a locked-room mystery. The first story is a thriller, and it really stretches the image of Harry as an action hero. Its pacing is quicker than the other story, in which the investigation has to proceed layer by layer, and much of it done by Haller and his investigator, and reported back to Harry. It also has to resolve itself like clockwork: legal clockwork, and legal is the meaning of the two truths in the novel’s title. The mesh of the stories isn’t as seamless as you’d hope: but both wind up being page-turners, reading to get to the solutions. It’s the way in which thrillers and puzzles get to a similar place by different means; the dark interiors of hard-boiled Harry are what gets passed by to an extent. The great thing is, it doesn’t matter. Undercover thriller, courtroom drama, locked room mystery. The menace of drug rings and the menace of venal DAs and Rat Squad cops. And Harry Bosch, whose character remains as deeply compelling as ever. Michael Connelly remains the best in the business.
Two Kinds Of Truth by Michael Connelly
Orion, £19.99 ISBN 9781409145554
published 31 October
NOTE: This review appeared first at Michael Carlson’s Irresistible Targets (http://irresistibletargets.blogspot.com)