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By Michael Connelly

Warner Books, 2006, $7.99 (paperback)
ISBN: 0446616443

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

Harry Bosch is back. In THE CLOSERS, Michael Connelly brings back his LAPD homicide Detective Harry Bosch, in fact, Bosch is back with LAPD. For two Bosch books (LOST LIGHT and THE NARROWS), Harry was a private investigator after retiring from his post as a homicide cop in LAPD Hollywood division. In several interviews, Connelly talked about how after having Harry Bosch retiring from the police department that he (Connelly) was worried he’d be unable to keep Harry investigating homicides as a private detective, so when Connelly was told about a real program in place with LAPD to bring back experienced officers who had recently retired, the author saw a way to keep Bosch on his mission of investigating homicides. And in THE CLOSERS, Harry Bosch returns to the police department, but now he’s assigned with his old partner Kiz Rider to the department’s Open-Unsolved Unit (aka--Cold Case Squad).

On his first day with the new unit, Bosch and Rider are assigned a case that has a "cold hit" from a DNA sample. The victim was a teenager who had been abducted from her home, dragged into the hillside behind her home and shot to death. The original detectives never found a suspect and they case went cold.

One of the things that Connelly does so well in this book is to show the reader the reality of forensics. People watch television and all of the CSI shows and think that every crime lab can do DNA, blood spatter and finger print analysis, not to mention computer modeling in an hour with commercials. The reality is that there is a great disparity between what is technologically available and what really gets done. Connelly shows in THE CLOSERS how that even though DNA testing has become available and routine that there is a such a backlog in most crime labs that samples take months to years to be tested. The key piece of evidence was some blood recovered from the murder weapon, and the location of the blood indicated that it was placed on the weapon when a shooter had improperly fired the weapon and the pistol "bit" the shooter’s hand.

THE CLOSERS is a well-written book, but not one of Connelly’s best Harry Bosch endeavors. In this tale, there’s very little of Bosch’s personal investment and conflict, both with the case and in his personal life, that we see in other books. It is hard to maintain constant tension in a character’s life in every book, but that tension and conflict is what makes Harry come alive, including the fact that Detective Bosch finds himself at odds with the brass within the department, especially Deputy Chief Irvin Irving. In fact, THE CLOSERS seems to be the end of Deputy Chief Irving, but Connelly is well-known for turning the unexpected twist, so it may not be the end of the Chief.

Though this is not the best Harry Bosch, this is still an excellent novel, as are all of Connelly’s books, so Harry Bosch fans will definitely want to read this tale.

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