About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Black Box by Michael Connelly

57. - 689.) The Black Box by Michael Connelly – It is a brilliant title involving a play on the black boxes used on airplanes that are often the source for an explanation of an airplane disaster. Harry Bosch, recounting a former partner Frankie Sheehan, says:

Frankie said it was the same with a murder scene or a murder case. There will be one thing that brings it all together and makes sense of things. You find it and you’re gold. It’s like finding the black box.”

In 1992 Bosch is called into investigating homicides that took place during the riots in South Central Los Angeles after four L.A. police officers are found not guilty of assaulting Rodney King. The body count overwhelms the police.

Bosch is directed to an alley where there is a young white woman shot through the eye. Members of the California National Guard have found the body. To his frustration Bosch has no time for more than a cursory inspection of the crime scene, some photos and quick conversations with the Guardsmen before being called to another homicide. He does manage to find the ejected shell casing.

The victim, Anneke Jespersen, is a Danish freelance photo journalist covering the riots. Memorably she is dubbed Snow White.

When the riot ends other detectives are unsuccessful in solving the murder.

Twenty years later, a forensic review of evidence in open cases determines that the gun used to kill Jesperson was used in two other murders. Bosch in the Open-Unsolved Unit is given another chance to find the killer.

He travels to San Quentin to interview Rufus Coleman who has been convicted of a different murder with the same gun. Skilfully leveraging two letters to the Parole Board, one supporting and the other opposing, Bosch learns from Coleman the name of the gang member who gave Coleman the gun. However, Trumont Storey is dead.

Still Bosch has a thread to the murder. He starts a gun walk looking to find and trace the gun.

At the O-U Unit Lieutenant Cliff O’Toole has just taken over commnd. He is an officious officer focused on statistics clearing crimes. With Bosch practising the principle, everybody matters, rather than statistical police work there is immediate friction. With Bosch’s insolence to superiors ingrained he is soon in trouble. The Professional Standards Bureau, the former Internal Affairs, begins investigating a complaint arising from Bosch’s trip to San Quentin.

At home Maddie is 16. Bosch has a good relationship with his daughter but, because of his obsessive work habits, continues to struggle with managing his time so he can be a full time parent. He is finding it a challenge dealing with Maddie’s determination, as a young woman, to have more control over her life.

Connelly smoothly draws the reader through the investigation and Bosch’s personal life. Bosch conducts his usual tenacious investigation.

In his last book, The Drop, I lamented the one dimensional character of the bad guy. It is not a problem in this book.

I do regret the way in which Connelly chose to end The Black Box. It has too much the flavour of Hollywood for me. From earlier books I know he could have written a better conclusion. I would be glad to exchange emails with readers of the book with regard to my further thoughts on the ending.

The ending turned a great book into a good book for me. (Dec. 30/12)
Happy New Year around the world to readers and fellow bloggers! May all the crimes you encounter in 2013 be between the pages or on the screen!
My other reviews of Connelly are:

Connelly, Michael – (2000) - Void Moon; (2001) - A Darkness More than Night; (2001) - The Concrete Blonde (Third best fiction of 2001); (2002) - Blood Work (The Best); (2002) - City of Bones; (2003) - Lost Light; (2004) - The Narrows; (2005) - The Closers (Tied for 3rd best fiction of 2005); (2005) - The Lincoln Lawyer; (2007) - Echo Park; (2007) - The Overlook; (2008) - The Brass Verdict; (2009) – The Scarecrow; (2009) – Nine Dragons; (2011) - The Reversal; (2011) - The Fifth Witness; (2012) - The Drop; (2012) - Black Echo; (2012) - Harry Bosch: The First 20 Years; Hardcover



  1. Bill - Thanks for a thoughtful and well-written review. I do have to say I like the way Connelly is developing the relationship between Maddie and her father. I'll be very interested to see how that goes.

    Have a very healthy, happy and peaceful New Year!

  2. Bill I have only skimmed through your blogpost since I'm currently reading The Black Box but I'll revert to you.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It does seem that the relationship of Harry and Maddie is going to be an ever more important feature in the series.

  4. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your review. I also just skim reviews of books I have not read but expect to read.

  5. Fully agree with your view about the ending, Bill. I also sensed that it has too much the flavour of Hollywood to me. Moreover when he is able to have written a better conclusion.

  6. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the comment. I hope for a better ending in the next book.

  7. I enjoyed The Black Box, and, as always, with Connelly's writing, could not put the book down until I turned the last page.

    Yes. I, too, was aggravated by the shoot-em-up, ultra-dramatic ending. It could have continued in the same vein and tone as the story, uncovering the criminals and and nabbing them without a helicopter chase, lots of gunshots in the house -- and, surprisingly, the reappearance of a higher-up.

    It was too Hollywood, and too best-sellerish, and too made for the displays at airports. It could have been lower key as well as brilliant.

    The plot uncovered was brilliant, layered, the evidence unpeeled like an onion. But the ending was over the top.

    It also didn't fit Harry's personality. He's not a Jack Reacher kind of guy. Hope Connelly rethinks this; of course, the publisher and promoter may strongly push for this type of ending.

  8. Kathy D.: Thanks for a comment that pulls no punches. Connelly writes far better than the ending of this book.

    I equally agree that it did not fit Harry's character especially now that Maddie is living with him. To me he would not be carrying out this "cowboy" solo investigation with a teenage daughter at home who has already lost her mother.