Wednesday, September 8, 2010

REVIEW: Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly

In this 15th installment following Detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Homicide Division, Harry and his partner Ignacio Ferras are assigned to a case involving a fatal shooting at Fortune Liquors. Harry has a previous relationship with Mr. Li, the owner of the store, dating back to the riots in 1992 and promises the family he will find the killer. After following up on some leads Bosch realizes the case is connected to the dangerous Chinese Underworld where culture dictates Chinese immigrants make payments to triads (i.e. gangs) in order to be left alone. When Harry puts more pressure on these Triads than they would like they try to get him to back off by hitting him close to home-kidnapping his daughter Maddie who lives with her mother in Hong Kong. Harry must travel to Hong Kong and try to save his daughter before it is too late.

The Harry Bosch novels are one of my favorite series I’ve ever read. The idea of taking Harry Bosch and thrusting him into a situation where he is completely unfamiliar with what is going on and where he has a very personal stake in solving this one was interesting. Detective Bosch is the type of person who has always taken his job personally. His cases are never just people on cold steel slabs with toe tags, they are real people to him and he invests himself in finding their killers and often crosses the professional line to do it. This time the moment Harry has dreaded has come-his police work has put his family in danger. While solving the murder of Mr. John Li, the owner of Fortune liquors Harry is definitely out of his element as he has little to no understanding of Chinese culture or the gangs that operate in the shadows of said culture. Harry gets a crash course from David Chu, a detective in the Asian Gang Unit. Thinks the murder of John Li has to do with payments made to the Triads and when Mr. Li couldn’t pay they killed him. When Harry tracks down a suspect he becomes entangled in the powerful Chinese underworld and the consequence is his daughter goes missing (or at least it seems that way). Harry travels to Hong Kong and begins to look for his daughter with the help of his ex-wife Eleanor Wish and her significant other Sun Yee. As Harry’s search continues the bodies begin to pile up and not only might Harry have to let the suspect in the Li murder walk, he might end up in quite a mess himself with the Hong Kong authorities.

I liked this Harry Bosch novel but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t as fast paced as some of the others in the series and I wasn’t as invested in finding out how this one ends as I was some of the others in the series. Harry was not in his element in this one and it seems the books where he is best are the ones where he is tracking some psychopath through the streets of LA. I liked that the book had a different setting than normal and the change of pace was good. I’m just hoping the next installment has Harry back in LA doing what he does best. The final reveal of what was really going on with his daughter and who really killed Mr. Li were not what I expected. This is an area Connelly always excels at. I don’t think I’ve been able guess the ending of a Bosch novel in advance yet. Still, not as thrilling as others in the series but a solid read.

This book is from my own personal library

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