The master of mystery, Michael Connelly is back with the twelfth entry in the Harry Bosch series (after 2005’s The Closers) entitled Echo Park. World-weary Heiryonmous “Harry” Bosch is still on the Los Angeles Police Department’s Open Unsolved Unit and haunted by an old case. In 1993, young equestrian Marie Gesto was abducted, and neither her nor her remains were ever found. The hope that she might still be alive is kept by the family, though not by Bosch, who has kept in contact with the girl’s parents over the years and kept the case fresh in his mind. The book opens up in ’93, where the case of Gesto has gone cold despite Bosch’s best efforts.
Flash-forward to present day and Raynard Waits, who by happenstance gets pulled over by the cops while driving through Echo Park. In the back of the van are trash bags containing the body parts of two females. To avoid getting the “Jesus juice” - a.k.a. death by lethal injection - Raynard Waits wants to make a deal where he pleads guilty to the murders of the women in the van plus those of nine other victims - including Marie Gesto, the one Harry Bosch was so passionate about solving. Bosch calls up FBI agent Rachel Walling (she appeared in The Poet and The Narrows) and, while asking for her professional opinion on some things, Harry sort of rekindles their relationship.
The blind passion Connelly imbues Bosch with is a great device that helps create suspenseful twists and turns, making for a more psychological thriller/mystery than straight police-procedural. What sets this novel apart from previous entries in the Bosch series is the variance in structure and the addition of local politics into the mix. The lead prosecutor on the case is Rick O’Shea, who also happens to be running for District Attorney. Also running for office, City Council to be specific, is Bosch’s arch-nemesis, ex-Deputy Chief of the LAPD Irvin Irving. The book doesn’t really get cooking until the third disc, when the proverbial stuff hits the fan. After an interrogation where Waits spills his guts about specific details of a particular murder, Bosch’s gut feeling tells him that the info isn’t enough, that Waits isn’t the one who murdered Gesto. They all agree to take a field trip to the site where Waits claims to have killed Gesto. Without giving it away, this is a major plot point, setting everything that follows in motion.
When a character is written over a long span of time, it is hard to always keep it fresh and energized. The energy is there, but the percentage of the story that centers on the mystery at large is a little less than in previous novels, which could leave a very, very small amount of bad taste in the mouth of the faithful reader. There is more character-related story here than usual, but Echo Park is still a solid Bosch book all around. What elevates the audio version for me is as usual: Len Cariou. The voicework/character acting on Echo Park is just as top-notch as his work in previous Connelly novels. He really is the perfect fit for the voice of Harry, and all the other characters he does superbly. He is nothing short of amazing when it comes to matching his skills to Connelly’s work. Though Echo Park is not as amazing as Lost Light, it is still a notch or two above The Narrows, delivering plenty of exciting moments, thrills, and chills.