Books: THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE

imagesBy Michael Connelly

#1 USA Today bestseller, 1/5/17

What it is: The 21st book in Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, which you may or may not know as the basis for the Amazon series Bosch. The title character of the Matthew McConaughey film The Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller, also originated in this series. In this entry, Detective Bosch (with Haller’s help) searches for the heir of a billionaire client, while also working part-time for the San Fernando Police Department to catch a serial rapist.

The posters for Ben Affleck’s Live by Night always vaguely annoyed me, I think because they seemed to take for granted a deep affection for LA noir cinema that I suspect isn’t actually shared by many people outside of the film nerd community. (The movie’s severe commercial failure would seem to confirm that suspicion.) But if that genre isn’t particularly popular onscreen, detective stories (and, in this case, LA detective stories specifically) are still very much a staple of popular fiction.

And although there’s overlap between cop stories and detective stories (particularly in this book, in which Bosch works as both a private investigator and a part-time officer simultaneously), the two often represent very different perspectives. Cop stories often indulge in authoritarianism, or at least wrestle with it, while the PI genre tends to side with the little guy struggling against the shadowy powers that be. That’s the case here, with Bosch dodging sinister corporate goons to deliver a fortune to a virtuous starving artist. And if there was any doubt about where Connelly’s ideological sympathies lie, he tosses in a line apropos of nothing about how “Politicians could talk about building walls and changing laws to keep people out, but in the end they were just symbols… Nothing could stop the tide of hope and desire.”

All that aside, this book was fine. Pretty straightforward crime fiction, engrossing but not mind-blowing or anything. I was afraid the two main story threads would end up connecting in a cheesy and implausible way, and they didn’t, which was good, but then I wasn’t really sure why they were put in the same book to begin with.

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