Friday, January 27, 2012

Heard: "Concrete Blonde" by Michael Connelly

Heard: Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly, 1994 (print), downloaded from

There was a recent online discussion about serial killer novels and respondents posted whether they liked them. This came out in 1994 which, if I remember correctly, was during the height of serial killer popularity. Listening to it now, in 2012, it is passe.

Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch is an LAPD detective. He used to be in the elite Robbery-Homicide unit until he killed a serial killer four years before. The killer, nicknamed the Dollmaker, was guilty, but Bosch got in administrative trouble for not calling for help before the confrontation and was subsequently transferred. Now, Bosch is being sued in federal court for denying due process to the dead guy and faking the evidence against him (he didn't).

At the beginning of the trial a note is dropped off at a police station claiming the writer is the Dollmaker and still killing. The note leads to a body encased in concrete. The concrete covered blonde fits the killer's pattern and has a specific tell-tale clue. Bosch starts to worry a bit.

Bosch is under pressure from the court case. Bosch is under pressure thinking he may have screwed up. Bosch is also dating the widow of a policeman whose death Bosch investigated. Bosch is under pressure from girlfriend who wants more emotional connection.

Bosch investigates. Opposing trial attorney is skilled and ruthless. LAPD Lieutenant is an ass. Bosch's city lawyer is inexperienced and fat. Bosch and others investigate and figure note writer is a copycat killer. Bosch has a suspect. Oops, wrong guy. Bosch has another suspect. Oops, wrong guy again. Bosch has a third suspect. Oh good, the correct guy. Bosch and girlfriend reconnect. Everyone lives happily ever after except for the dead people.

1. The first Bosch book I read/listened to. The Mickey Haller series is quite good.
2. Connelly with an E not an O.
3. Three main topics: the trial, the murder investigation, Harry's troubled brain.
4. Harry is one of crime fiction's shut down dudes. He never knew his father, his mother was a murdered street walker, he was foster homed, time in Vietnam, time in the police department. He doesn't drink too much like other Shut Down Dudes be he has difficulty connecting with people. Anyone outside of police work is dismissed for their naivety. Harry knows he is emotionally closed off. Harry wants to speak to Girlfriend about his life but is incapable of doing so.
5. One reason I never tried reading these novels is the name Hieronymus. It made the book sound gimmicky.
6. Harry does not like porn, the pron industry, or the results he sees on the actors.
7. I don't recall what physical description Connelly gave Bosch but Bosch must be a smaller guy to have been a tunnel rat.
8. Harry is often the "grouchy cop." He can be a real dickhead.
9. Indoor smoking at bars.
10. No cell phones.
11. Beepers.
12. Narration by Dick Hill is sub par. Sometimes Hill really annoys me. He adds in throat clearing, whiny voices, grunts, and uhms. His female voices are almost always whiny and meek.
13. Harry really dislikes young lawyers questioning his experience and theories.
14. Henry Weinhard beer. I'm pretty sure I used to buy that in Arizona.

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