The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch #21), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Michael Connelly has done it again, with a stellar novel that follows the ever-evolving travails and work options of Harry Bosch. Out of the LAPD, Bosch is always on the lookout for something new and exciting to bide his time. An acquaintance reaches out to him, running a private security firm and has a favour to ask. Bosch learns that he has personally been requested to meet with billionaire Whitney Vance, though the specifics remains veiled in secrecy. Bosch hesitates, but is intrigued enough to head out to see the man and find out what this business magnate might want with him. During their meeting, Vance recounts the story of impregnating his Mexican girlfriend back in 1950, before his father ushered her away. With no knowledge of what happened and no living heirs, Vance would like to know if his bloodline continued over sixty years ago. Having lived a full life, Vance admits that, at eighty-five, he has started to think about his death and would like to leave the company to family and not the vultures on the board. Bosch begins poking around using old records and with little on which to base his investigation. His intuitive abilities lead him to a former home for unwed mothers, where the mystery thickens and Bosch is left with more questions than answers. The reader also learns that after his major run-ins with the LAPD, Bosch is now working for the San Fernando Police Department (the other SFPD) in their cold case squad. Due to significant budget cuts, Bosch is working without pay, on a reserve basis. As he juggles the Vance investigation, he is neck-deep into a serial rape case involving a perp called the Screen Cutter. Victims are attacked while in their homes and at the height of their monthly fertility. This baffles Bosch on many levels and he works angles as best he can, unsure of much and with only a few insights. While trying to dig further into the Vance case, Bosch finds himself surrounded with memories of his time in Vietnam and the struggles young men across the country had with strict army rules and loved ones left stateside. A old foot locker proves to be a treasure trove of information and helps Bosch learn about a potential heir that could put Vance’s mind to rest, but there is still much work to accomplish. As the Screen Cutter case heats up, Bosch is certain he has a suspect in mind, sending his partner out to add the final pieces to the puzzle. When she falls captive, Bosch’s guilt and desire to see the suspect caught propels him to break rules in ways only he can and bring some form of justice to those who need it the most. Just when he feels he might be able to relax, there is a twist in the Vance case and Bosch is forced to reexamine the truths he’s used throughout the investigation. Connelly does not stop with the action, pulling Mickey Haller in for a small role in this electrifying Bosch novel. Not to be missed by those who love the unconventional nature of Harry Bosch. 

While some authors tend to lose the momentum when series go on for too long, Connelly has been able to keep Harry Bosch alive and always pushing the envelope. No matter the mystery or things going on in his personal life, Bosch finds new ways to entice readers with his rule-breaking and unique sense of justice. Connelly surrounds his protagonist with strong supporting characters and references to those from his past, enough to bridge the old Bosch with yet another version of the man who is tackling police work from different angles. Of particular interest to me was another glimpse into the life of Bosch as a Vietnam soldier, memories of his time there and how it has made him into the man he is now. With a daughter away in college, Bosch is forced to live life on his own, not shackled down but also somewhat adrift. Connelly spins to his advantage as he continues to develop the Bosch character and adds his other great protagonist, Mickey Haller (half-brother to Bosch) to keep things light and somewhat legal. If I could offer a single issue that arose in my listening to this novel, it would be Connelly’s lack of literary flair when describing dialogue. Peppering the page like a errant cap gun the word ‘said’ sticks out like a sore thumb. I only noticed this in the latter few chapters, but it is as if Connelly can find no way to bridge lines of dialogue, which lessens the colourful nature of the narrative. Minute in its importance, true, but when you are working with such a great novel, it is the tiniest things that one grasps when looking for a flaw. Will readers ever tire of Bosch? Not likely, as long as Connelly continues to step up and produce gems like this. 

Kudos, Mr. Connelly for another wonderful novel. I was hooked from the opening chapter and cannot say enough about your abilities.