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Onyx reviews: The Closers by Michael Connelly

In recent books in Michael Connelly's Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch series, the author confesses through narrative the influence of modern culture on his characters. In The Narrows, FBI profiler Terry McCaleb was aware of a Clint Eastwood depiction of one of his cases, which readers knew as the novel Blood Work. In the eleventh Bosch novel, The Closers, Connelly acknowledges that he is treading into familiar television territory with a nod to the CBS series Cold Case.

Bosch is freshly out of retirement, having discovered that he can't abide not being a cop. Rejoining the LAPD, he is assigned—along with his former partner Kiz Rider, who lobbied on his behalf—to the Open-Unsolved Unit, which is just another name for the cold case department. Bosch is known for resurrecting past crimes and putting them to rest.

However, there could be more than a good reputation behind his assignment to Open-Unsolved. Departmental politics—and perhaps corruption—may be at play, so he has to reacquaint himself with the landscape while he gets up to speed with new procedures and techniques. Within minutes of his first day on the job, after a meeting with the chief, Bosch encounters an old nemesis— Deputy Chief Irving—who gleefully informs him that the case he has been assigned will be his ruination, as well as that of the current chief responsible for hiring him back to the department.

The file that lands on his desk dates back nearly twenty years, when a teenager, Rebecca Verloren, was abducted in the middle of the night and later found shot to death in the hillside near the family home. Forensic science has advanced in the interim; a piece of skin found on the gun might reveal the killer's identity.

Cold case investigators not only revisit the details of old crimes, they also tend to judge how the original officers handled the cases. Bosch and Kiz must tread lightly to keep from stepping on the egos and pride of their fellow officers, even though some are retired or deceased. One of Bosch's interests is in the ripple effects that crimes have. He is intrigued by the way Rebecca's mother has preserved her bedroom as a museum piece for nearly two decades, and how her father destroyed himself with alcohol and descended into L.A.'s homeless society. When the DNA trace leads them to a member of a white supremacist organization, Bosch wonders if there might have been a racial aspect to the crime that was never explored. Rebecca's mother was white, her father a black chef.

The forensic evidence is a start, though Bosch and Kiz know that they have to do more than tie the weapon to a person. Any savvy criminal could confess to having owned the gun and lost it.

Bosch and Kiz quickly fall back into their old patterns—good and bad—and Bosch is determined to follow this case to the end, regardless of what feathers he ruffles along the way, fully cognizant that this could be his last case if he irritates the wrong people. Connelly knows the LAPD and its procedures cold, but he also knows his protagonist and has found an interesting way to breathe new life into a world-weary character. So much has changed in a few short years that Bosch is almost a rookie again, and he looks at his former job with new life and enthusiasm.

The Closers probably isn't Connelly at his best—fans of the series will point to some of his earlier books like The Poet for that honor—but a moderately good Bosch novel is far better than most other crime novels any day.

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