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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 22, 2012
After so many Harry Bosch stories you would think they should start to run out of steam - IMHO this is not so. Michael Connelly is a consummate author who can keep a great character running and evolving and continue to produce a top-class page-turning police procedural.

In the last book, after a short retirement Harry Bosch returned to the LAPD with a 5 year contract under the Deferred Retirement Option Plan - "The DROP". He now works with the Open Unsolved Unit chasing up cold cases. In 1999, at the height of the LA Riots, Bosch briefly gets involved with the discovery of the gunshot death of a pretty female free-lance Danish press photographer who was apparently killed as part of the riot. This case had always troubled Bosch and he gladly accepts the challenge although after all that time the trail has gone cold.

Bosch is an impatient detective - to him momentum is everything. Once he is on the trail he is a bloodhound who never lets up until he finds a break. He calls this "The Black Box" because, similar to air crash investigation a single verified clue may open up the whole case. After diligent and clever police work Bosch finds his Black Box and discovers a web of intrigue and violence going back to the first Gulf War.

Working the case in his normal independent manner is not helped by his a strained relationship with and lack of respect for the competence of his superiors at LAPD, especially his current Lieutenant (O'Toole - nickname "O'Fool"). "You are the worst kind of police officer, Bosch. You are arrogant, a bully, and you think the laws and regulations don't apply to you." O'Toole refers Bosch to Internal Affairs on what seems to be a petty matter, but it is important because it affects the way Bosch can run the investigation and if the complaint is upheld he could easily lose his job because he is on a DROP contract.

Connelly keeps up the pressure and spins an exciting tale of skilled police investigation by a dedicated, independent but somewhat personally flawed Harry Bosch. I recommend this book as a great read for lovers of police procedurals and a good Christmas present for those who still read print books.
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In 1992, Detective Harry Bosch and his partner, Jerry Edgar, were on emergency rotation during the infamous Los Angeles riots, and were "dispatched to any place they were needed--wherever a body turned up." Fires, looting, and gang violence transformed L. A. into a war zone, with "all semblance of dignity and moral code gone in the smoke that rose over the city." In order to deal with a tidal wave of looting, revenge killings, and scores of other incidents, the police had to cut corners. "In the chaos of the moment the mission was simple: preserve the evidence, document the scene as best and as fast as possible, and collect the dead."

Bosch and Edgar roll up to an alley near Crenshaw Boulevard, where a thirty-two year old Danish photojournalist had been shot in the head at close range. The deceased is Anneke Jespersen, whom Edgar nicknames "Snow White." Bosch finds a 9mm shell casing at the scene but little else, and for twenty years, Jespersen's murder remains unsolved. In 2012, Harry takes another look, knowing that finding Jespersen's killer after so much time has elapsed is, at best, a long shot.

"The Black Box" is vintage Connelly, and Bosch is as stubborn and relentless as ever. He ignores his superiors when they try to derail him and pursues every lead, no matter how small, with a laser-like focus. Harry visits San Quentin to interview a gangbanger; traces an intriguing phone call that was placed ten years after Anneke's death; and asks for help from anyone who may be able to shed light on his case. With a bit of luck and solid detective work, he manages to narrow down his list of suspects to a few individuals who may have been responsible for a vicious crime and cover-up. Although he is a cop first and foremost, Harry is also a devoted dad (his sixteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, is precocious and a chip off the old block), and he continues his warm but unresolved relationship with Hannah Stone.

The plot is involving and, for the most part, realistic. Connelly's dialogue and prose are, as always, forceful, brisk, and fast-paced. Bosch works tirelessly to move his investigation forward, but when he hits a dead end, he never considers quitting in frustration. He merely looks at things from a fresh angle and relies on his famous gut instinct to steer him in the right direction. Although his job is exasperating, tedious, and frequently nerve-wracking, when Harry nails a villain, he is elated. At an age when most of his peers have "pulled the pin" and retired to a life of ease, Harry refuses to part ways with the LAPD; he has signed a contract under the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Bosch is still driven to fix what is broken in a criminal justice system that is too often criminally unjust.
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VINE VOICEon November 23, 2012
Harry is still working on closed cases and he decides to re-open the "Snow White" case. When he was an officer during the 1992 LA riots he came upon a murdered Danish reporter Anneke Jespersen, who was found dead by a National Guardsman. Harry was never able to solve that mystery and it basically went dormant for 20 years. The fact that he never found Jesperson's killer had always gnawed at him and the 20th anniversary sets him to dive back into it.

In the meantime he has annoyed his new group leader (O'Toole) and pretty soon the PSB (formally Internal Affairs) is investigating Harry for improprieties when he visited his girlfriend"s (Hannah) son in prison. Harry is no longer a regular detective as he is in his four year DROP period and he could be let go for the merest infraction.

As Harry starts to investigate the Jesperson case, he gets more blowback from O'Toole making him think that those that sit on the 10th floor are against him and are behind the PSB investigation. This makes Harry more determined to work on the case. Harry learns that a call was made to the police from Modesto, CA on the 10th anniversary of the murder and when Harry looks into that call, it is the clue he needs to really start the case going. His partner Chu had told Harry that every case has a "Black Box" which is the one clue that can break the case wide open.

Harry has to work the case solo and let Chu work in the background because he is afraid that O'Toole will come after Chu too. Harry is relentless at persuing all clues in his usuall direct manner. The story gets hot and heavy as Harry must quickly solve the case before he is ousted from his job and must go after the bad guys without a partner for backup.

This book held me from start to finish and Connelly's writing is crisp. The only things that were negative about the book is he does go overboard talking about jazz songs as I am not a jazz aficianado. Also, his daughter Maddy is virtually a non-entity and after his last book, I thought she would have a hand in helping him solve the case. None of these issues prevent me from giving the book a full five stars!
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on November 28, 2012
Harry Bosch is a long time favorite of mine, I anticipate each entry in Connelly's long running series. The Black Box was a disappointment.

The book begins with a preview of a cold case - a photojournalist murdered twenty years before during the Rodney King riots. The city was in chaos and murders were hastily investigated, most not cleared. But Harry is haunted by the 'Snow White' case.

Back to the present and the gun that killed the Danish journalist is tied to another crime. The twenty year old murder case gets assigned to Harry and his partner, and Harry wants closure. As is often the case, Harry is at odds with the supervisor of the unit. Add Harry's attempt to close a 'riot' case that involves a white victim when the mayor wants to appear sensitive to the black community on the twentiety anniversary of the King verdict.

The case takes a turn in a direction that is unexpected and Harry follows the case. This plays out against the backdrop of a formal complaint from his supervisor.

The Black Box isn't a bad book - it just isn't a great book, which we have come to expect from Connelly. The writing is average and the story seems plodding. The only real bright spot is the developing relationship with his daughter, sixteen year old Maddie.

A must for fans of the series, but not a stand alone page turner.
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on March 12, 2013
Video "Writer Review" of The Black Box by Michael Connelly
A writer's perspective: I gave it four stars, but is this a book for you?
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on December 8, 2012
I loved the earlier books, but this one feels perfunctory or formulaic.

a. The side plots are lame. Gee, Harry's boss is political and cares about PR, while Harry only cares about solving cases. How original to both Harry and police stories in general. There's not even an effort to develop the boss.

b. I think more words are spent describing the food and restaurant where he eats with his girlfriend, than the girlfriend herself. "Have love interest?" Check.

c. Am I the only person who is tired of detectives seemingly always liking jazz? And I like jazz. Even in a musical genre I don't know, I could with 5 minutes of Google research write something about obscure reggae artists or the like, and some wonderful live performance that you just "have to hear."

d. No time spent developing his partner, whose only mission is basically doing data entry for Harry.

e. Yes, there are farms and grapes in central CA. Thank you Mr. Connelly. And apparently the IQ of most people there is about 90. (and no, I don't live there.)

The development of new characters; Harry being less than perfect; the inside of LA; etc., is gone. This is one pretty boring procedural that feels like it could be CSI or the Mentalist or something.
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on November 29, 2012
Harry is so...Harry! The best fictional detective in books today, master of the 'play' and king of the cold case. Mr. Connelly crafts yet another good story line with interesting characters, and a smooth easy to follow who dunit style. An enjoyable outing for Harry Bosch fans, even though we all know how things will eventually turn out.
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on December 9, 2012
I am an avid reader of all things Connelly, and I'm sorry to say that I was rather disappointed by this book. I've always thought of Connelly's writing as quasi-non-fiction in that he has an uncanny talent for telling a fictitious tale that is plausible in its entirety. This is where "The Black Box" falls short. The ending was a let-down, and my eyes began to glaze over as Bosch made his completely fantastical escape from the barn coupled with the highly improbable arrival of a relatively unrelated detective on the scene (wow, and just in the knick of time!). Ho-hum. I feel like Connelly just tired of the story and very sloppily brought it to a close. Thanks for "phoning it in" Mr. Connelly. We expect more from you.
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on January 4, 2013
Well, I was slightly disappointed in a few loose ends.....but maybe these will reappear in the next adventure. As usual, Harry just pisses everyone off, and I love that he does. Personally I could reread all my Michael Connelly over and over as I love this character that I feel I know so well. He never seizes to always be on the edge with EVERYONE, and annoy his superiors! My personal interest may be odd as I was married to an LAPD officer for almost 31 years. THEY are definitely a sub culture unto their own from a very intimate look! Michael Connelly nails it with his rendition of Harry's escapades in his job, his relationships, his partner, and his ego. Let's face it, whatever Harry does if you are a fan, we are all gonna read it no matter what! Just can't get enough of Harry. In my mind, Harry is a friend of mine for 40 years who worked Hollywood Homicide, and Organized Crime in real life and who lives quietly now away from the drama. Often we discuss what went on in the 70's and 80's and then have to check our blood pressure because time has not ever erased the moments of impact. It is why I can read the fictional Harry and enjoy him, as the real life I dealt with is always just below the surface waiting to erupt.
It's a definite recommend to all the Harry fans! Can't wait for the next installment.
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on December 6, 2012
Even at his best, Michael Connelly has never been much of a stylist. His sentences rarely provide pleasure or anything like aesthetic satisfaction, but, like his favorite protagonist, Harry Bosch, his workmanlike prose can normally be counted upon to plug along until his latest challenging case is solved, despite any and all obstacles, criminal, forensic, and bureaucratic, that are placed in his path. Connelly is always very good at evoking the grubby details of police work, the hard slog and endless hours needed to bring a case to something like a satisfactory conclusion. Harry Bosch, humorless and driven, is not always easy to like, but in his grim determination to bring about justice for the mute victims of murder that he tirelessly represents, he is an altogether memorable character.
The Black Box marks the 20th year since the first Harry Bosch novel, and Connelly celebrates the anniversary by giving Harry, now working in a special branch of the Los Angeles police devoted to solving cold cases, the opportunity to work again on a case that he briefly encountered 20 years earlier but was unable to solve because it took place during the chaos resulting from the infamous Rodney King riots that paralyzed the city, the murder of a white, Danish journalist in the midst of a black neighborhood then under martial law. Now, in 2012, the discovery of a gun linked to the old case, enables Harry, aided by forensic advances unimaginable in 1992, to open a new investigation and discover surprising new dimensions to the case. The police work is solid and convincing, and the narrative, which manages also skillfully to advance the ongoing tale of Bosch's sometimes fraught relationships with his teenage daughter and his psychologist girlfriend as well as to demonstrate his usual impatience with authority, is well developed. But then, about two thirds of the way through, just as the case is coming together nicely and promising an exciting and satisfactory climax and conclusion, everything falls apart. The final third of the book is something of a mess, overly melodramatic, rushed, and clumsy. It's almost as if Connelly, feeling the need to get the book out in time to mark Bosch's 20th anniversary, was unable to take the time needed to finish it properly and fully develop the situation he had so carefully set up.
Ultimately then, The Black Box is rather disappointing. One can only hope that next time the prolific Connelly, free of anniversary pressure, will take the time and effort to bring his work to a more satisfying conclusion.
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