Second tense, tightly wound tangle of a case for Hieronymous Bosch (The Black Echo, 1991). This time out, the LAPD homicide cop, who's been exiled to Hollywood Division for his bumptious behavior, sniffs out the bloody trail of the designer drug "black ice." Connelly (who covers crime for the Los Angeles Times) again flexes his knowledge of cop ways--and of cop-novel cliches. Cast from the hoary mold of the maverick cop, Bosch pushes his way onto the story's core case--the apparent suicide of a narc--despite warnings by top brass to lay off. Meanwhile, Bosch's boss, a prototypical pencil-pushing bureaucrat hoping to close out a majority of Hollywood's murder cases by New Year's Day, a week hence, assigns the detective a pile of open cases belonging to a useless drunk, Lou Porter. One of the cases, the slaying of an unidentified Hispanic, seems to tie in to the death of the narc, which Bosch begins to read as murder stemming from the narc's dirty involvement in black ice. When Porter is murdered shortly after Bosch speaks to him, and then the detective's love affair with an ambitious pathologist crashes, Bosch decides to head for Mexico, where clues to all three murders point. There, the well-oiled, ten- gear narrative really picks up speed as Bosch duels with corrupt cops; attends the bullfights; breaks into a fly-breeding lab that's the distribution center for Mexico's black-ice kingpin; and takes part in a raid on the kingpin's ranch that concludes with Bosch waving his jacket like a matador's cape at a killer bull on the rampage. But the kingpin escapes, leading to a not wholly unexpected twist--and to a touching assignation with the dead narc's widow. Expertly told, and involving enough--but lacking the sheer artistry and heart-clutching thrills of, say, David Lindsay's comparable Stuart Haydon series (Body of Evidence, etc.).