Saturday, June 16, 2007

Don't Overlook This One

Having just read Michael Connelly's The Closers, I was intrigued when I heard about his newest Harry Bosch novel, The Overlook. This one was originally written as a 16 part serial for the New York Times, then collected and slightly expanded for novel publication. It's shorter than Connelly's other books by about half, but boy did he cram the mystery, suspense, and conflict into this one. And I have to admit, he fooled me with one of his gambits. I figured out most of what was going on, but I missed one very important clue. When Connelly turned that card over, I actually looked up from the book and said, "That was slick. Nicely done."
Though I've read literally thousands of mysteries over the years, and seldom encounter one nowadays that I can't solve, I still get a kick out of being fooled by a nice bit of misdirection. (I once solved one of Anne Perry's massive doorstop mysteries on page 14 of a 500 page book.)
There's far more here than a clever whodunit though. L.A. Homicide Detective Harry Bosch gets sent to investigate an execution style murder high in the Hollywood hills. Things get complicated quick like. The victim is a doctor who had access to dangerous radioactive materials and it looks like he was forced to gather a large quantity of cesium, a radioactive substance that can be used to make so called 'dirty' bombs, before he was killed. Bosch has barely begun his investigation when the case is taken over by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and a gung ho L.A. special anti-terrorist unit. The clock is ticking as Harry tries to solve the murder and find the missing cesium. At only 225 pages, I read this one at a sitting. It's better that way, I think. A well plotted suspenseful ride. Recommended.

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