I thought I was incapable of leaving less than a 5 star review for anything Michael Connelly does. But here we are.
Just before this one came out, Connelly described in an interview the effect that writing the Amazon series had had on structuring his novels. For the series, he said he learned to write several different story lines at once, and he decided that was a good thing to impose on his novels. This one shows that is a bad decision.
The power of the Bosch novels, and in fact all of Connelly's novels until now, is the relentless through-line of the main plot. It usually tips off on the first page and is tied up on the last. It builds tension and involves the reader in the main character's challenges. There are other intrusions -- Harry's search for his mother's killer, intrigue with his daughter, relationships, conflict with other cops, and even other investigators and other cases. But in these other novels our main character -- even when it isn't Harry -- is laser-focused on the main storyline.
The Night Fire is not that. It's almost "A Day In The Life" as our characters, both of them, dart around from here to there, often for no plot-related reason at all. There is a subplot with Harry's daughter which has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. If it were cut along with the other subplots that weave throughout, there would not be enough left to publish. I wouldn't mind if the main story had the same power as in the other novels, but here it is just another plot line lost in the shrubbery.
I think the book probably deserves four stars because it is well-written and diverting, but it is so far below my expectations of this author that I just can't. He's raised my standards, and I'm sticking by them.
Connelly fans will not be deterred by this mis-step. For new readers, please start with any of the other novels, any one, but leave this one for last.