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By Michael Connelly
Little Brown Books, 1998, $25.00 hardback, 393 pages.
Reviewed by Rick McMahan
Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch book, Angels Flight, is the sixth in the saga of the LAPD homicide detective.
The book opens with Harry responding to being summoned to a homicide scene in the middle of the night. That’s nothing unusual for Bosch. However, the victim is a prominent lawyer named Howard Elias and the area of his murder is an historic cable-rail car downtown, Angels Flight.
Elias was a black civil rights’ attorney who made his career out of suing the LAPD. This is the reason the case is going to Harry Bosch’s squad from Division instead of the prestigious downtown Robbery Homicide; Elias’s latest case is a lawsuit against members of the Robbery Homicide unit, alleging misconduct.
Elias's client is a black man who was accused of the rape and murder of a white girl. The client claims he was brutalized by members of the Robbery Homicide squad, and now just days before the case was to go to court, Elias has been gunned down.
The LAPD brass wants to appear impartial, so they assign Harry Bosch to the homicide investigation. Harry realizes his team is in a no-win situation. If they don’t solve the homicide, members of the black community will accuse Bosch and his team of protecting one of their own among the thin blue line. And if he does solve the murder, he may very well have to arrest a brother in blue. To add insult to injury, Harry has to work with his nemesis from Internal Affairs, Detective Chastain.
Once again, it seems, Harry Bosch is the underdog and outsider in the familial setting of the police community. As always Connelly weaves a very entertaining and vivid story set amid a backdrop of social unrest and smouldering riots in Los Angeles. One could say that one of the constant themes or tableau of the book is unrest. The homicide is causing unrest within the ranks of LAPD. The administration is concerned with the public relations nightmare if the murderer is a cop. Worse yet, if the killer is a white cop. Internally, the department is uneasy, wondering if indeed one of their own officers crossed the line and did what they all had joked about -- killing Elias.
In a parallel vein, Harry’s life is in upheaval. For those of us who thought Harry’s marriage to Eleanor Wish would end his personal unhappiness, we were wrong. From the outset of Angels Flight, Eleanor is gone and Harry, as well as the reader, struggle with why she’s left. In the end, we are left, like Harry, wondering where Eleanor is and what will happen to Harry Bosch.
Once again Michael Connelly has written an excellent tale.
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