The Black Box is Michael Connelly‘s 18th crime novel about Detective Harry (short for Hieronymous) Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department, part of the Robbery/Homicide Division’s Open-Unsolved unit. This audiobook edition has a new narrator, which I hadn’t noticed before I started listening. I had a few confusing moments while I wondered if I had the wrong audiobook (“Where’s Harry?!”) and then realized there was some interloper named Michael McConnohie reading instead of Len Cariou. (I think Bob over at The Guilded Earlobe probably tried to give a heads-up, but I only skim reviews until I’ve read the book, so I missed the news or blocked it out.)
Now, even though I’d been through this traumatic experience before – back at Book #5 or thereabouts, whenever Len Cariou took over from original narrator Dick Hill – it was still a shock! It took me at least an hour to settle into hearing the story in a new voice. Michael McConnohie seemed to speak too deliberately, at first, and just didn’t sound at all like the gruff, 20-year veteran Harry Bosch, but after a while, I had to acknowledge that Michael McConnohie was doing a decent job of it.
In The Black Box, Harry Bosch at age 60 takes on a cold case that he himself was one of the first detectives called to the scene on, twenty years before – the execution-style murder of a female, foreign journalist. At the height of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, when police investigators were overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion of a city in turmoil, detectives were hurried from one crime scene to the next; Bosch was taken off the case and it was never solved.
The author tries to give enough background on Harry Bosch, his taciturnity, his military service, his mission to catch killers, his family life, and his on-again, off-again love life that each new Harry Bosch novel might be enjoyed on its own. But The Black Box is the 18th book in this 20-year series, and you’d be missing out on a lot of history if you start here.
If you like the dark determination of Henning Mankell’s Swedish detective Kurt Wallender or the gritty realism of John Harvey’s English police detective Charlie Resnick (like Harry, a lover of jazz) but haven’t read any of Michael Connelly’s books yet, it’s time to check out the American master of the police procedural.
Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook here.
The Black Box
McConnohie, Michael, narr.
Hachette Audio, Nov. 2012
Full Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook on CD through the public library.