“The Black Box” is a crime novel from the prolific Michael Connelly and features LAPD Homicide Detective Harry Bosch. This particular installment was first published in 2012.
The novel starts off in 1992 as Harry Bosch is on patrol doing initial investigations of the homicides which occurred during the Los Angeles riots that had broken out after the acquittal of police officers who were tried for excessive force. Of course, this is referring to the whole Rodney King saga, although Connelly avoids that specific name in this story.
Bosch is haunted by the discovery of a young reporter from Denmark who was there on an unknown assignment and killed in the midst of the chaos. He is not able to give the attention the victim deserved during that time, however twenty year later, he gets another shot at it as he works in the Open/Unsolved Unit.
A “black box” is a term referring to a piece of evidence discovered in an investigation that pulls a case together. Twenty years later, Bosch finds the black box that will lead to a long-delayed justice for Anneke Jesperson, a reporter whose assignment was far more personal than chronicling a riot.
Bosch, as usual, finds himself at odds with the brass where his own career is threatened…as usual. Of course, a mere kerfuffle with an ambitious superior isn’t going to keep Bosch from doing what he does best when he is hunting for justice.
Some of the leads and directions Bosch finds himself tracking in this case don’t seem all that believable sometimes, but the story still holds together quite well. Bosch himself remains a compelling character, so I find it quite easy to suspend my disbelief to enjoy this novel. Connelly has a talent for often not going down an obvious path in his stories, and some twists I didn’t predict as easily as I often do. This novel also touches on a fascinating and tumultuous time in our country’s history and culture without it turning into the main plot.
“The Black Box” is a solid and at times profound entry into the Bosch canon. Even if the main plot is just a little hard to buy into, Bosch as a character is still admirable and compelling enough to make that irrelevant. And he also makes it where the reader wants to stick with him regardless of a few implausible scenes. Bosch is flawed and compassionate enough to make it easy to root for him. It is also easy to see why Connelly has become so popular in crime fiction for the past several years.
Next up on the journey of literary indulgences is an Agatha Christie play that was adapted into a novel several years ago by Charles Osborne, “Spider’s Web”.