Michael Connelly used to be among my favorite writers in this genre. His earliest novels (Concrete Blonde, Trunk Music, etc.) really started me down the path of being a voracious consumer of mystery fiction. Unfortunately, he continues his downward trajectory with 'The Drop', and I think that's the last one I'll waste my time reading. He's apparently content to rest on his laurels, act as a lazy professor emeritus of the genre, and write gushing blurbs about other writers' books (which I don't trust).
This book brings the laziness to a new level. Connelly combines what appears to be 2 longer short stories into a single novel. In 'The Drop', 2 cases are assigned to Harry Bosch almost simultaneously, and he solves both of them in pretty short order. Of course, there's really no connection between them, so having them in the same book really doesn't work, except for 'padding' purposes.
What does work in the book is that the story lines for both cases are interesting and probably could have been developed into standalone novels by an author who was interested in doing a little work. The procedural stuff seems to be pretty solid, and the conclusions to both crimes are logical. What doesn't work?
- A great character, Harry Bosch, is wasted. Really no background is explained, nothing in his rich past in the series is mined to make the novel more interesting and to help the reader understand his motives.
- The dialogue is wooden. What used to be a strength for Connelly is no longer there.
- The 2 cases just didn't have synergy. There was no reason for them to be in the same book.
- The writing was pedestrian, with absolutely nothing to recommend it.
Anyone starting to read Connelly with this book ought to ask 'what's the big deal with this guy?'. Anyone wanting to start reading him should begin in the beginning and go back to his earliest novels.