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VINE VOICEon January 30, 2001
"A Darkness More Than Night" (the title comes from a line in a novel by Raymond Chandler, who was Connelly's inspiration for becoming a writer) is Michael Connelly's 10th novel. Six of the first nine star LAPD detective Harry Bosch; one of the other three ("Blood Work") stars Terry McCaleb, a former FBI agent forced into retirement by heart disease necessitating a transplant.
Although Bosch and McCaleb had worked together before, offscreen so to speak, "Darkness" brings them together in the same novel. McCaleb is happily retired from the serial killer profiling business, making a living from chartering fishing trips around Catalina Island in Southern California, when an LA Sheriff's Dept. deputy friend of his comes to him for his help on a strange murder. (In case you are wondering, the Sheriff's Department is a county agency; it polices the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Crimes within L.A. city limits fall within the jurisdiction of the LAPD.) Against his wife's wishes, McCaleb agrees to take a look. He comes across a clue that the sheriff's deputies missed the first time, and that clue leads him into a whole new area of investigation that eventually points at . . . Harry Bosch.
Some of Connelly's mysteries contain what for me were stunning twists -- "The Concrete Blonde" and "Trunk Music" come to mind. "Darkness," on the other hand, proved to be relatively easy to figure out about 100 pages before the end of the novel. Nevertheless, it's still a gripping read. Most of Connelly's books are dark and edgy, but the darkness and edginess are even more palpable in this book. McCaleb's investigation takes him (and the reader) into a very grim Renaissance age painter, the owl as a symbol of evil, and an unnervingly cocky defendant in a media circus trial.
One of the most interesting things about "Darkness" for readers who've read the Bosch novels is the glimpse of what Bosch comes across like to someone else. The encounters between McCaleb and Bosch -- not the first one, but the ones after that -- are fascinating and point to the difference between the two men: especially Bosch's "avenging angel" nature.
Another interesting thing about this book (and many of Connelly's others) is the way that he weaves in facts and characters from earlier books. Readers of "Void Moon" who wonder what happened to Cassie Black's parole officer (Thelma) find out here. It's just a throwaway paragraph, but it's a nice touch.
In summary, Connelly is a consistently good writer, and "Darkness" doesn't disappoint, even if it telegraphs the solution to the mystery a little too early. It's still satisfying to the end.
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on April 19, 2002
I've read all but two of Michael Connelly's books. I think he's a good writer, and through most of his work, I thought he was a good storyteller. Which is why I was unpleasantly surprised with A Darkness More Than Night.
I think this book is a cheat. Connelly presents a flawed premise, pads the middle of the book with a couple hundred pages of filler, and then creates an ending that is no surprise and doesn't even qualify for the term mystery. Connelly is a good writer, but even he couldn't pull this one off.
A recurring theme in Connelly's books is the "good" versus "evil" situation. He also likes his good guy characters to struggle with philosophical questions about the evil that men/women do and what it takes to bring these people to justice. Harry Bosch seems to fluctuate between good and evil to the extent that the guy is more schizophrenic in this book than he's been in any of the others. I would buy that if there were a good reason to make him such an undefinable character. But in this case, there wasn't a reason like that. For no reason other than Connelly apparently wanted to give Terry McCaleb something to do, Bosch becomes a suspect in a murder. And while lip service was given to the thought that an investigation of Bosch had better produce hard evidence that he did what McCaleb suspects he may have done, it seems to me that everyone had no problem believing that Bosch just suddenly decided to become a cold blooded murderer. Given everything readers of Connelly's books have been led to believe about Bosch up to this point, that just doesn't make any sense. 400 pages of fill doesn't make it any more credible a premise.
I held out until the very last page of this book hoping that Connelly could redeem himself with an ending that would salvage something from all the stuff following the beginning. In my opinion, that didn't happen. What's worse, one of the two main characters comes off as a crybaby.
The bottom line is that in an effort to maintain his strong sense of good versus evil, Connelly sacrifices realism. He presents two seasoned veterans of crime fighting, and he tells us that these two men have seen it all. So, if that's the case, how does one of them miss learning that life just isn't planted on that naive high moral ground that shows up at the end of the book? When I finished the last page and closed the book, I just wanted to tell Connelly to Grow Up.
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Michael Connelly is the BEST mystery-thriller writer working today, so it almost goes without saying that this book stands head and shoulders above most others within this overcrowded genre. In *A Darkness More Than Night*, he demonstrates once again his extraordinary skills in terms of weaving intricate plots filled with twists, turns, and early-innocuous-clues-that-become-pivotal-later-on. He also has developed not just one but two extraordinary protagonists, Harry Bosch and Terrance McCaleb, and their "face-off" in this book adds a fascinating dimension to an already fine work. Connelly also does a wonderful job of creating the *noir*, "there is evil afoot in this world" mood/philosophy that pervades his books. The discussions of Hieronymus Bosch's paintings, the symbolic meanings of owls, etc., are absolutely riveting.
Given that I've bestowed such effusive praise upon this novel, why four stars instead of five? First, it's apparent that the novel will be appreciated far more by readers who have already read not just one or two but ALL of Connelly's previous works. Yes, it's common for mystery writers to write their successive books with an element of "ongoing story" to the work, including occasional references to events and cases described previously. But Connelly employs this practice so heavily in this book that it almost seems futile for any reader to pick up *A Darkness More Than Night* without having gone through at least a few previous Connelly mysteries.
The second reservation I had is one that other reviewers have mentioned, i.e., that although the McCaleb vs. Bosch angle is certainly exciting for all of us who are Connelly devotees, there is a certain implausibility about some aspects of the plot line, particularly in light of McCaleb's own travails in *Blood Work*. Since one gets a clear inkling of where the story is headed, this removes some of the tension associated with how the Gunn case will ultimately be resolved.
Am I being nitpickingly negative here? Perhaps. For a writer as skilled as Michael Connelly, we readers develop extremely high expectations--perhaps excessively high. Overall, this is a wonderful novel that leaves me waiting impatiently for Connelly's next work.
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on January 28, 2001
Michael Connelly outdoes even his magnificant reputation with A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT. A cast of characters from his previous works team up for a near perfect mystery. Terry McAleb (Blood Work) is asked by Jay Winston to investigate a grisly murder that looks to be the first in an eventual series. Through his gritty detective work and outstanding profiling his pegs a sure fired suspect.....the problem is that the suspect is the infamous Harry Bosch (Black Echo, Angel's Flight, etc.....). Each piece of evidence points to Bosch and throughout the book the reader is forced to ask "Did Bosch go over the edge?". All the while, Bosch himself is in the middle of a tedious trial of a Hollywood murder. Other familiar characters in the Connelly world show up including reporter Jack Mcevoy (The Poet). Therefore it may help to have read previous Connelly novels to gain the full efect of this work.
The book is a non stop piece of intrigue. Once picked up it beckons the reader to keep going until the masterful ending. There are no dull moments and the characters of Bosch and McAleb feed off of eachother. There are bad guys worthy of your spite and good guys with the weaknesses that are a Conelly trademark. Is Bosch a fallen heroe? Has McAleb missed the mark on this profile? Will the killer strike again? All of these questions run through the course of the brilliant five star fiction.
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on January 30, 2001
I discovered Michael Connelly last summer and tore through his Bosch series in a couple of weeks. It quickly became one of my favorite detective series. I had read The Poet prior to these books and finally made the connection. I was a little worried when I got to Blood Work and Connelly departed from good old Hieronymus and took up with Terry McCaleb as his protaganist...but the storyline with the detective investigating the murder of the donor whom he received his heart from was too delicious to pass up. Now, in A Darkness More Than Night, Connelly makes the brilliant move of pairing these two characters up in more than just the passing manner of prior stories. Even Jack McEvoy from The Poet makes an appearance. The strength of this book is web of characters and events that fans will remember and enjoy. If you haven't read Connelly before, you might enjoy this book even more by starting the series from the beginning (The Black Echo) and watching the pieces fall together...but I suppose you could read this book alone and still be gripped by the storyline. The plot is yours to discover, but I will say that the darkness that seems to seep into my favorite detective makes the possibilities suggested by the twisting discoveries of McCaleb more than a little disconcerting. This is a guaranteed hit.
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on March 21, 2001
This is a review and a rating which I give very reluctantly.
Michael Connelly is one of my favourite authors of popular fiction. He has updated the classic police procedural novel and, in the form of his protagonist - L.A.P.D. detective Harry Bosch - contributed to the genre of hard boiled detective fiction. In recent years, Connelly has branched out - introducing readers to different characters, such as the intriguing Terry McCaleb, former FBI profiler and heart transplant recipient.
Hence, when I heard that Connelly was writing a novel involving both Bosch and McCaleb, I looked forward to reading it and anticipated another Connelly classic. "A Darkness More Than Night" has a lot of the elements I enjoy about Connelly's writing - a rough edge to the plot, extensive use of police procedure and a setting which, in my opinion, cannot be matched -the den of iniquity which is modern day Los Angeles (Connelly is wonderfully effective at evoking Los Angeles and all its quirks).
Nevertheless, I finished this book somewhat disappointed. It revolves around McCaleb's suspicions that Detective Harry Bosch has turned from rogue cop to bad cop - exacting revenge on individuals who the justice system failed to punish. Nevertheless, I found myself predicting the ending (accurately) within about the first 30 or 40 pages of the book. Readers do get further insight to the character of Harry Bosch but the use of McCaleb seems almost spurious. Connelly's use of Terry McCaleb as a character in his novel "Blood Work" worked because the plot of that novel revolved around McCaleb's heart transplant. Here, that special element of his character falls away and we are left with something quite one dimensional. Sadly, as the book progressed and the ending became more and more apparent, I found myself reading for the sake of finishing rather than for the sake of savouring the story.
Michael Connelly remains an excellent author but he probably needs to stick with what he does best. Rather than trying to intertwine his various characters from previous books (there are cameos from characters in other Connelly novels as well), he should focus on developing the character of Harry Bosch - rogue cop - as well as creating new characters just as interesting and intriguing as those from his previous books. Connelly fans will certainly want to read thisbook but those who have never read his books before should try "The Poet" or "The Last Coyote" first rather than be disappointed. My own choice would be to give the book a rating of only 2 1/2 stars but I will give Coonnelly the benefit of the doubt and round that up to 3.
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Michael Connelly's newest book, A Darkness More Than Night, features Terry McCaleb and Jaye Winston (from Blood Work)and Harry Bosch in a thriller that will definitely keep you glued to your seat. Be prepared for the pages to seem that they they are flying through your fingers. If you liked Blood Work, you'll greatly enjoy seeing how McCaleb tries to once again see inside a horrifyingly deranged criminal mind. What he uncovers, however, will not seem possible. In typical Connelly fashion, he develops characters, both good and bad, that are very well-developed and ones you'll feel are very real. Further, his plot will keep you engrossed from first page to last. Don't hesitate to add A Darkness More Than Night to your must-read list.
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on February 4, 2001
I read about 40-50 mysteries a year, and Connelly's works have quickly become some of my favorite reads. In his newest novel, "A Darkness More than Night," I especially like the way he combines his primary series character (Bosch) with Terry McCaleb, his hero from but one novel. I've often wished that more writers had the guts to do this, and Connelly pulls off the melding of his hero (McCaleb) and anti-hero (Bosch) beautifully. If you've yet to read any of Connelly works, I'd recommend going back to the beginning of the Bosch series, reading them all, and reading the one work with McCaleb. Though this is not a necessity, many earlier books and characters are alluded to in this latest work. Not only does Connelly manage to present an intriguing case to be solved, it is his knowledge of police work and the court systems are what really make his novels awesome. His stories have a way of sucking you in, making you care for his characters, and wanting to see justice done. Connelly is as good and better than most all that are out there now, and this latest novel is marvelous.
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on June 7, 2001
This is a celebration of Connelly's work so far. He has managed to tie in characters from all his other books. Terry McCaleb from Blood Work, Harry Bosch, the protagonist of 6 other books and Jack McEvoy from The Poet. He makes mention of the incident from which he was serving a suspension in The Last Coyote. Not only that, the assistant prosecuting attorney in the ongoing court case makes a reappearance after being introduced in Angel's Flight. Just for fun, see if you can spot the passing reference to a character in Connelly's other stand alone book, Void Moon.
On top of everything else, Michael Connelly delivers yet another powerful thriller, combining McCaleb's profiling skills with the dark figure of Harry Bosch. Two stories are intertwined as Bosch is involved with a high profile court case, and McCaleb investigates a murder. I feel we're treated to the best of all worlds through the combination of all of Connelly's main protagonists.
If you're a dyed-in-the-wool Michael Connelly fan, this book will bring back fond memories of his previous works. If it's the first Michael Connelly book you've read, I think you'll find your curiosity sufficiently aroused to go back and read the earlier stuff.
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on February 11, 2001
Michael Connelly has combined two fascinating heroes from past books in a suspenseful novel that keeps you up until you reach the end. Terry McCaleb who received a heart transplant and is on disability, has been spending his days waiting for fishing charters. His wife, Graciela, from his book Bloodwork, has given him a new baby daughter that he is enamored with. However, when Jaye Winston from the Sheriff's Department shows up to ask his help in solving a murder that is getting colder and colder, Terry can't wait to get into the "book." At the same time Harry Bosh is the key witness in a sensational trial involving David Storey accused of killing a date after consensual sex and then trying to make it look like sucicide. How the two cases meet and put Harry nearly on the wrong side of the suspect list is the heart of the storey. Just read it!
As an interesting aside, there is a minor character in the book that is the central character in a Michael Connelly short storey published on the internet. While I printed it out to read and found the writing just as good as expected from Connelly, I was disappointed in the story. Probably I just prefer the fleshed out longer pages of a full size Connelly novel, and I will look for the next one. At the end of A Darkness More than Night the relationship between Bosh and McCaleb appeared to be terminated, but anything is possible with fiction. I hope they come back to work another case.
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