Connelly takes his customary edge off Harry Bosch’s latest case: the murder of a 12-year-old runaway that had never even been suspected until a playful dog turned up his bones in a shallow grave.
Most of the people who lived in Laurel Canyon around 1980—the approximate date the forensics indicate the sorely beaten boy’s life was abruptly ended with a final blow to the head—have long since moved on. So one of Harry’s first jobs is figuring out who was even in the neighborhood when the boy was buried. Even after a distinctive skateboard allows Harry to identify the victim as Arthur Delacroix, lots of problems remain for Harry and Julia Brasher, the LAPD rookie who’s soon sharing his confidences and his bed. A conversation with a known pedophile who lived a few doors away from Arthur’s grave plunges Harry into official hot water. Arthur’s abusive father is suspiciously eager to confess to the murder. And a routine chat with Johnny Stokes, a childhood friend of Arthur’s who’s grown up to be the complete loser, explodes in violence. Connelly handles all these episodes with his accustomed skill, but he can’t hide the fact that they’re episodes designed to make a 20-year-old homicide seem more urgent and dangerous to the present-day cast than it actually is. Harry still shines as a detective, and the sorry souls the evidence flushes out into the open go far to explain his conviction that “in every murder is the tale of a city.” But the case itself is marked by coincidences and shifting suspicions that suggest untidiness rather than virtuosity, and there’s precious little of the unremitting tension that’s won Connelly such a following over the past ten years.
A bone to throw to loyalists while they wait for another case to rival A Darkness More Than Night (2001).