This was my first Connelly book, and safe to say I'm totally hooked.
From reading about his other books, this is one of his non-Bosch books, and as such, was a fortunate place to begin.
What we have here is an old-fashioned page turner. A bare bones summary would be a Denver reporter loses his twin brother cop to suicide, purportedly over a particularly disturbing, unsolved homicide. As he copes, the reporter learns about a number of police suicides, with several seeming related.
At that point in the novel, it becomes a struggle to put the book down. I had to remind myself to slow my reading so I wouldn't miss anything, yet I was tearing through the pages as fast as I could. You won't want to be bothered by anything else for a few hours.
The manhunt is breathlessly told, and becomes scarier as you peek into the mind of the perpetrator. Comparisons to "Silence of The Lambs" are understandable, but unfair. Honestly, this book isn't as good as THAT one, but it doesn't miss by much. Lector is nothing like the Poet; they're two different animals.
The final quarter of the book is best read at night, or better yet, like 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, with only a lamp illuminating the page. It's a bit thrilling when the pieces fit together so unexpectedly yet neatly. There's a satisfying click to each piece of the puzzle as it fits into place.
Here's my big problem: the paperback edition I read ends with a several-page peek at his recent book, "The Narrows." If I'm not mistaken, characters from this book make it into that one, but somehow dovetails with his other books, of which there hae been seven or eight in between.
My problem then is that I have one heck of a lot of reading to do...
on June 1, 2002
A friend recommended Michael Connelly when I said I hadn't read a really good thriller since Riptide by Preston and Child. I got the Poet the next day, and I read it in three big gulps. There are many parts of the book where it is simply impossible to stop reading.
I'll stay away from the plot(and I recommend you stay away from reviews that tell you too much), but it involves a likeable narrator, the FBI profilers, a truly creepy villain, and many plot twists that still make sense after you catch your breath.
If you are looking for a thriller, and you don't have to get to sleep soon, then this book is certainly for you. I plan to read all of the Michael Connelly books this summer, and that's the highest praise I can give an author.
A reporter, Jack McEvoy, looks into the death of his twin brother, a homicide detective who is found dead in his vehicle, an apparent suicide. Doubting the facts, he investigates the circumstances of his brother's death and uncovers cases of assumed suicides of other officers, with one commonality, a suicide note that apparently is a line from a poem. This opens an official investigation for a serial killer dubbed "The Poet."
This book may not grab you right off the bat, but after you get into it, you keep turning those pages longer than you intended to. If you like details of crime investigations you will like this book. The main character, Jack, is not a super-hero, but a believable and likeable good guy, who's persistence and determination one has to admire.
The pedophile personality in the book is very disturbing, and the murders descriptive, so it is not for the squeamish reader. I liked the fact that the book keeps you wondering as to who the real cop-killer is. The only disappointment was in the killers motivation - when the real killer is revealed, it is unclear what caused the individual to go wrong and created such an evil, warped personality. Recommend it for lovers of suspense and crime-solving - Intense, fast reading!
I have heard that a major key to writing well is to write what you know. In turn, as a murder-mystery writer you cannot write well about a crime scene unless you have actually stood outside the yellow tape and taken the situation in with all of your senses, or so the story would go. And that is the emphasis behind Michael Connelly's The Poet as I see it. Before becoming a best-selling author, Connelly wrote for newspapers, "primarily specializing in the crime beat" (MichaelConnelly.com). So before he wrote books, Connelly was a reporter. And instead of "typical" detective fiction, The Poet is about (what else?): a reporter.
I was immediately drawn to main character Jack McEvoy. He was sculpted with more precision. He was written with more passion. I may be way off base with this, but it seemed to me that McEvoy was a more natural character for Connelly to write. I have been to talks given by Michael Connelly where he shares experiences with police officers he was privileged to have, so you know there is truth in his detective fiction, but it was fun to read the same type of story wrapped in a different package. He had ridden along with the officers, but he had lived as a reporter. It was entertaining to get some insight into how reporters fight for information since they do not have the authority or the reputation with the police, and see just how competitive their world can be.
Yes, there is a girl. And right away I was closed minded to the whole thing. "This story did not need romantic involvement," I pleaded to the book in my hands, "it is so good without it." But I was wrong. Too often the romance is built in to make the book more marketable to a wider audience. Not so in The Poet.
I cannot remember the last time I came across a book that was so hard to put down. The Poet was interesting, entertaining and suspenseful. I found myself finishing the last page, closing the back cover of the book and wanting for fresh air. "THAT was a good book," I said aloud, to no one in the room.
on March 26, 1997
For 400 pages, I could not put this book down, then Connelly ruins it with a completely implausible, and ultimately dull ending. The narrator Jack, spends the book searching for the answers to his brother's apparent suicide. The ending gives us the who, but not the more important why or how
The Poet! This book was really fun. While I am a fan of Connelly's Harry Bosch series, I was still able to fall for Jack McEvoy. I thought that Connelly's premise was very creative and great for bibliophiles.
The killer uses Poe's literary works as a basis for his murders. What a fabulous way for Connelly to merge his genius with the brilliance of Poe - one of the genre's greats.
I just could not put this one down. I found myself reading under the covers with my book light. A fun vacation from reality.
on April 6, 2003
This book definitely kept my interest, but the ending was more than disappointing. I felt almost cheated for having spent my time reading this novel only to arrive at such a badly thought out ending. No motives are given, no true ending, it's as if he got tired of writing the book, just gave it several "twists" and ended it there.
Bottom line: Disappointing, but interesting enough to keep you turning the pages.
on August 31, 2009
In Michael Connelly's LA crime series (Black Ice, Echo park, the Overlook, and others) you have detective Harry Bosch. Bosch is a cop. He solves crimes. He's on the inside from the moment he gets the squeal. It's his job, his duty, his life, and he does it well. To our great pleasure and morbid fascination, we get to tag along as Bosch follows the trail and solves the crime. We love Harry, his back story, his girlfriends, his partners and bosses, the perps, the city of LA in all its smarm and all it's style. We love the fascinating cast of walk-on characters that makes it true LA. The Harry Bosch books are among the best in the genre. Connelly himself cites Raymond Chandler as an inspiration, and the Bosch books are worthy companions to Chandler's best.
By contrast, in Connelly's newspaperman-amateur detective series (The Poet, the Scarecrow) we get Jack McEvoy. McEvoy is a journalist on the crime beat, a man looking for a story that will sell newsprint. As a reporter, he's on the outside trying to get in. He doesn't care about the victim or the criminal, he wants a story that will sell. He wants "the scoop". As a result, the character of Jack McEvoy does not work as a believable crime story protagonist. In an attempt to tie his newspaperman to the crimes he is reporting, Connelly must invent family members and co-workers to kill off. In place of well crafted dialog, we are served dry monologues that force-march the plot along. Journalist McEvoy, his back story, and the whole cast of characters in the newsroom are weak, poorly drawn, one-dimensional cardboard props. To maintain our flagging interest, Connelly whips up a froth of sensational crimes of pedophilia, murder by bondage and discipline, and sexual mutilation of female corpses. Yet, the uber-violence is somehow disconnected from the story, and we are left with the vacuum left by the absence of worthwhile characters.
If you are looking for something to read on the plane, the book will fit the bill, and you won't mind forgetting it in the seat pocket when you de-plane. If you are looking for something more worthwhile, skip this one and get any of the Harry Bosch books. Connelly seems to be struggling in this series. He has fallen back on sensationalism to make up for dull characters and weak "mise en scene". The sense of place he brought to the Bosch books is missing. Also absent is any sort of natural link between the reporter-crime solving Jack McEvoy to the horrific crimes he is reporting. Pedophilia, gruesome murders of children and mutilation of women's bodies does and will sell lots of books at the airport, but fans of Chandler-quality writing should steer clear of "The Poet" and the rest of this series for the time being.
I thought this book was pretty interesting until the ending. It was so completely over-the-top, contrived, far-fetched, whatever else you want to call it. It tried way too hard and failed big time. It's like he was trying to picture it as a movie and was trying to make a spectacular twist on the twist on the twist...and it was just an eye-rolling inducing obnoxious ending.
on May 17, 2014
This is a good serial killer story from beginning to the “almost” end. I very much enjoyed the reading experience, although there were a few glitches along the way. But even with theses glitches, I was trapped within the events and kept turning pages because I wanted to see how everything turned out.
Glitch #1: Everything was cool until the FBI agent (Rachel Walling) went rogue and intercepted McEvoy at his hotel room. No career FBI agent who wanted to keep their job would do something like that. Yes, it created a unique way for McEvoy and Walling to meet and form a semblance of a relationship, but it was totally contrived.
Glitch #2: The FBI’s handling of the sting operation at the camera store was nothing less than amateurish, and was difficult for me to accept. As a result, the story lost a bit of its verisimilitude. The FBI already knew and noted that the suspect had used disguises in the past. Every customer entering that camera store on that day would have been a suspect. As such, being caught off guard by a six foot woman in an obvious blond wig smelling like a perfume factory should’ve instantly raised red flags.
Glitch #3: The all-too-convenient death of Walling's ex-husband, which totally cleared the path for a continuing romance between McEvoy and Walling.
Glitch #4: The ending. Would the real Poet please stand up? If you like serial killer mysteries where you have absolutely no idea who the villain is, and you have been given zero hints that there may be another bad guy out there (other than a multiple-choice hypothesis very early in the story), then you would not be as disappointed as I was. But I like mysteries that provide clues and legitimate whodunit questions. The ending to this story totally comes out of the blue. I said to myself, “Huh?” If the author wanted to make sure that not even one reader would have a clue or inkling who The Poet really was, then the author succeeded. The problem was that there were no hints worth noting along the way.
Some people thought the ending was bad enough to spoil the whole story, but I did not. It’s a great read up until the ending.