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VINE VOICEon October 24, 2000
I've read a lot of mysteries: just about the entire "Travis McGee" series by John D. MacDonald; all of the "Fletch" novels (including the two "Son of" books) by Gregory McDonald; every Raymond Chandler piece of fiction; most of Dashiell Hammett; some Ed McBain; many Carl Hiassen books; a few Agatha Christies.
Michael Connelly ranks up there with all of those distinguished writers. He has a fluid, detailed writing style that conveys the scene without bogging down in such intricacies that the reader gets lost. The dialogue is snappy and hard-boiled but will probably age well (unlike, say, some of Chandler's).
"The Concrete Blonde" is the third novel starring LAPD detective Harry Bosch. (The order goes "The Black Echo," "The Black Ice," "The Concrete Blonde," "The Last Coyote," "Trunk Music," and "Angel's Flight." The new novel coming out in early 2001 involves Bosch as well, but it's not clear if Bosch is the main character or a secondary character.) I've read the first three and the last ("AF"), and, while they are all good, "The Concrete Blonde" is the best thus far.
Earlier in his career, an incident that is described or alluded to in virtually every novel, Bosch gained some notoriety and fame for taking down a serial killer known as "The Dollmaker." He was so called because he would use makeup and polish to paint up his victims. The killer sent bad poems to Bosch, taunting him with descriptions of the victims. Eventually, Bosch tracked down the killer and shot him to death when the man reached toward his pillow . . . for a hairpiece, as it turned out. Bosch was cleared of wrongfulness in the shooting, though he was disciplined for not calling for backup.
Fast forward four years. The dead man's widow is now suing the LAPD and Bosch for violating her husband's civil rights, and the case is going to trial. All of a sudden, a letter is dropped off for Bosch at the police department: it contains a poem, just like the ones the Dollmaker sent, and it leads the LAPD to another body . . . which is painted up just like the Dollmaker's victims. Could Bosch have killed the wrong man?
"The Concrete Blonde" alternates between the court scenes and the investigation of the new murder, and the transitions are deftly handled. While the court scenes are not perfectly accurate (I am, unfortunately, a lawyer by trade), they are much better than in most novels.
The mystery is tight and compelling. Having read lots of mysteries, I often am able to guess at the outcome simply because the set-up reminds me of another book I've read. In fact, that happened with "The Black Ice." Not so with "The Concrete Blonde." About 180 pages into it, I thought I had it figured out. With about 50 pages to go, I thought my instinct had been confirmed. Oops. I was wrong, and about as shocked as Bosch!
In addition to weaving a great mystery, Connelly paints a reasonably deep picture of his main character, Bosch, a Vietnam veteran (he cleared out enemy tunnels) who is simultaneously cultured but also emotionally damaged.
To sum it up, let me put it this way: I started with "Angel's Flight," and when I was finished, I ordered all of the Harry Bosch novels immediately.
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The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly provides the best of both worlds: a murder mystery that takes place within a courtroom drama.

The Concrete Blonde opens with Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective Harry Bosch on trial for murder. When Bosch shot Norman Church, he believed he was killing the Dollmaker, a serial killer responsible for the rape and brutal murder of eleven prostitutes in Los Angeles. The Dollmaker's widow believes otherwise, and she sues Bosch in civil court for wrongful death. Just as the trial is underway, another victim is discovered and this one was murdered after the death of Church. This 12th victim was encased in concrete and is dubbed the Concrete Blonde.

The Concrete Blonde casts a shadow on the trial and gives ammunition to the aggressive and scheming prosecuting attorney, Honey "Money" Chandler. Is it possible that Bosch killed the wrong man? Maybe there's a copycat killer. Also, Chandler and the press have information that is being leaked from within the LAPD. Whatever the case, the investigation is ongoing and the judge won't delay the trial to give Bosch time to solve the new murder.

Connelly is one of the best mystery writers out there today, and his plots and characters reflect a realism that developed in his years of being a police reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The Concrete Blonde was written after the LA Riots and Rodney King, and shows the darker side of this city of contrasts. When Bosch tells his lawyer in the courtroom that he seeks the truth, he is lectured "And you're going to sit there and talk to me about truth? When was the last time you saw a truthful police report? When was the last time that you put down the unadulterated truth in a search warrant application? ... The truth has got nothing to do with what goes on in here. Neither does justice. Just words I read in a law book in a previous life." But for homicide detectives, "the homicide squad wasn't a job. It was a mission. As surely as murder was an art for some who committed it, homicide investigation was an art for those on the mission. And it chose you, you didn't choose it." So while Bosch may be cynical and jaded by his many years of wearing a badge, he can't give up his battle of good vs. evil. But for as brilliant as Bosch is at solving cases, he's a bit of a cowboy and doesn't always follow rules, which often gets him in trouble with his superiors.

Connelly is a talented writer, and The Concrete Blonde is one of his best books. I'm now going to have to fill in the gaps with his other Bosch books.
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on February 17, 2008
This is the third of Mr Connelly's novels to feature LA Police Detective Harry Bosch. In this novel, Harry is on trial in a civil case for the fatal shooting of an alleged serial killer known as the Doll Maker. Just as the trial begins, a new murder victim is discovered and there appear to be links to the murders committed by the Doll Maker. Harry is both simultaneously involved in court and in solving this new murder mystery: time is critical.

Michael Connelly is an accomplished writer of crime novels who knows how to bring his characters to life. His previous employment as a crime reporter has no doubt provided him with insights into the operations of the LAPD. At the same time as we are travelling with Harry to solve this new murder and the mystery of the Doll Maker, we are learning more about Harry himself.

I enjoyed this novel, and look forward to continuing to read about Harry Bosch. Now, what's the name of the next one in the series?

Highly recommended for crime fiction fans.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on February 17, 2000
A rich top notch gripping thriller, this book is the ideal company for courtroom action and true crime mistery lovers looking for a good read. This my third Connelly book after The Black Echo and The Black Ice, (I recommend to read them in this order) and Mr Connelly, has again as in the others, developed his unique skills too create fast paced action packed suspense and to easily manipulate the reader the way he wants providing also a thorough knowledge of the setting, the city of LA with its dregs. At the same time that Harry Bosch is on trial for pulling the trigger "too quick", he gets in his crosshairs several suspects to investigate (one at a time), and that brings along excellent opportunities to unfold the outstanding suspense when he follows them, in addition the trial provides further entertainment, great court action, and more positive confusion. Unfortunately, I can see some flaws; the suspects are investigated for reasons not too clear, (looks like if you are close to Harry he will investigate you), on top of that our hero makes it again catching the bad guy employing his great proficiency and brainy capacity, but this time he gets too much help of "his father" Mr. Connelly who turns around all the events for Harry Bosch the easy way with the typical ending. Why that easy Mr.Connelly?, you are an excellent writer, the ending is not your trademark "master twist" style
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on October 18, 1999
TREMENDOUS!!! Connelly did it again. Great plot and character development. Michael Connelly is as artful a sculpter of words as Michelangelo was with marble. My only regret is that I did not start at the beginning. I did not start with his first book, THE BLACK ECHO and read his Harry Bosch series in sequential order. ***Please do not make the same mistake. Start with THE BLACK ECHO then go on to the others; you will more fully enjoy Connelly's masterful creations. Also look for his latest--VOID MOON--(coming to a bookstore near you, soon.)
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VINE VOICEon January 7, 2000
Concrete Blonde drew me in right from the start and I could not put it down. I guess it is true that you can judge a book by it's cover.
I have read all of Michael Connelly's books and enjoyed them all - this one was wonderful. Harry Bosch is a great character and Connelly really expands him and draws us further into his world with each book. He draws the reader in and really allows you to get to know the characters (and not just Harry but the peripheral ones as well).
Concrete Blonde was well written and totally addictive - once you open it you can't put it down!
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on September 13, 2004
"The Concrete Blonde" is Michael Connelly's third book, was first published in 1994 and - like his previous two - features Harry Bosch as its central character. A little of Bosch's background, and many of his quirks, have been touched onin the previous two books. He's a jazz fan, with a taste for coffee, beer and cigarettes. Having served as a Tunnel Rat in Viet-Nam, he' returned home and joined the police force. Bosch currently works at the Hollywood Division's Homicide table, though he had once been a member of the LAPD's elite RHD (Robbery - Homicide Division). The last case he worked in RHD, about four years previously, had been the "Dollmaker Case". Harry and his colleagues were hunting a serial killer, whose afvoured victims were prostitutes. The case was closed when Harry shot and killed Norman Church, the leading suspect. As a result of his actions, however, Bosch was investigated by IAD (Internal Affairs Division), suspended for a month and 'demoted' to his current position.

The Dollmaker Case resurfaces in this book. Bosch and the Police Department are being sued by Church's widow, claiming that her husband was innocent and that Harry had killed the wrong man. Her lawyer is Honey Chandler, a civil rights attorney who specialises in police abuse cases. Bosch meanwhile - like the police department - have no doubt that Church was the Dollmaker, and "good" for the eleven killings. Unfortunately, for Bosch there's a fly in the ointment. Just as the trial starts, a new body is found buried beneath a concrete slab in a derelict building. The directions to it were contained in a note delivered to Harry's station - not only does it claim responsibility for the murder, but it also matches some other notes attributed to the Dollmaker. Obviously, this raises some very awkward questions - most notably, is the Dollmaker still alive ? If so, Bosch is obviously in a lot of trouble with his court case. There are other possibilities, though - the Dollmaker may have been working with another killer, or there may be a copycat. Bosch must not only deal with the court case, but assist in the investigation.

Like Connelly's previous two books - "The Black Echo" and "The Black Ice" - I found this to be a very enjoyable book : it's possibly the best of the three. I would, however, recommend reading the three in order. The previous books will cover some parts of Harry's life and career that are referred to in this book - for example, his mother's life and death, his history with Irving, how he met Sylvia Moore and the nature of their relationship. Knowing the "full story" will add to the enjoyment of this installment. The other books are very enjoyable also - reading them will be anything other than a burden !
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This is my first Connelly book and it is a tremendous story! I found myself completely engrossed in Harry Bosch and the complex plot. Connelly deftly balances courtroom intrigue and police procedurals, not relying on a lot of crimes being committed during the course of this novel. He refers instead to a previous crime which he thought was over, but has now resurfaced as the victim's widow has filed suit against him. A really good writer, Connelly entangles us in several breathtaking courtroom confrontations and "dirty" cop scenarios.
Bosch is a great character, his relationship with Sylvia is very believable and you want it to work out. Add Money Chandler, the vicious defense attorney, who is one of the best "hero/villains" I've read in a long time.
All the characters are well-fleshed and even though I thought I had the mystery figured out, Connelly pulls a very credible surprise on us!
I can't wait to get the other Bosch books now. A great series!
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VINE VOICEon November 12, 2007
The Concrete Blonde is the third in the Harry Bosch series, which is up to thirteen books and counting. Harry is a homicide detective and we learn that he has shot and killed a suspect believed to be a serial killer known as the Dollmaker. Unfortunately for Harry, he shot the man because he was reaching under a pillow but instead of a weapon there was only a toupee. Now, Harry is being sued for excessive force and a note is sent to him that indicates maybe the Dollmaker is still around after all... that maybe Harry killed the wrong man. Without revealing any more plot specifics, Harry has to defend himself in court while trying to catch this possibly new Dollmaker before he can kill again.

This was my first Michael Connelly book and it began with promise. The pace of the first 100 pages or so is very good and the characters were reasonably interesting. Bosch is stuck between a rock and a hard place with an apparent copycat killer who could also be the original while a star lawyer rakes him over the coals in court. The last 100 pages were also excellent as the story built momentum to the climax and kept me on the edge of my seat. The problem is the roughly 300 pages in the middle where the pace drags and the book suffers badly for it. This section seems to be a lot of running in place with nothing of note happening to move the story forward again.

Another weak point is the trial. One example, the attorney accuses Harry of planting the toupee under the pillow to justify the shooting. This is patently absurd since he would obviously want to plant a knife or gun if he were going to do any such thing. The toupee made Harry look like a fool and laid him wide open to the lawsuit. Yet no one during the entire book ever points out this obvious stupidity.

This is not a bad book and the Harry Bosch series has a strong following of loyal fans. I didn't find enough here to bring me back for a second helping but fans of police procedurals should probably give either this book or one of the others in the series a chance. I've certainly seen worse writing than Connelly's and he probably has more appeal to hard-core fans of the genre.
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on October 3, 2015
Damn that Michael Connelly. I stayed up reading until 2:30 in the morning because I wanted to finish 'The Concrete Blonde'. In Harry Bosch's third adventure in the series, the detective is standing trial for his actions in killing a serial killer four years earlier. When the police receive a note from the supposedly dead killer, it throws Bosch's world into utter chaos. He's certain that the Dollmaker was the guilty party, but how do they explain the new note with directions to the discovery of another victim buried in concrete?

The story takes place in 1994 Los Angeles when the 1991 Rodney King beating by police and the ensuing 1992 riots are still fresh in the city's minds. Police conduct is being held under a constant microscope. It was a time when plenty of people smoked and driving while drunk didn't seem to be that big a deal. Bosch has been a loner most of his life but, in this story, finds himself in an intimate relationship with a woman whose husband was murdered in the previous Harry Bosch mystery entitled 'The Black Ice'. Struggling with multiple murder suspects, the porno industry, a complex romantic relationship, police politics and a gripping court room drama delivers a hard-to-put-down novel. Also, Mr. Connelly's cynical presentation of the legal system would've made Charles Dickens proud. There were times when I thought some of the situations wouldn't have been so stressful in the story if everyone back then had cell phones like we do today.

It is not necessary to have read the two previous works entitled 'The Black Echo' and 'The Black Ice' but would help you in getting a better understanding of what makes Harry Bosch tick. The ex-reporter turned author does an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing and on the edge of their seats until the very end. Being a recent reader of the Harry Bosch series, I can see why Mr. Connelly's protagonist is so popular.
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