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Onyx reviews: The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 11/27/2015

The title of Michael Connelly's latest novel featuring Harry Bosch refers to two different things. In one context, it is at the center of a high-profile rape/murder case. Though the police have a suspect in custody, brought to justice based on DNA evidence, one nagging question is how the alleged killer and the victim crossed paths. 

Lexi Park was West Hollywood's assistant city manager and the wife of a police sheriff. Her alleged killer, Da'Quan Foster is a black man with a checkered past who seems to have reformed his ways. Foster's and Park's worlds couldn't be more different, but even in cases where a victim is chosen at random, there is always a crossing point.

In another context, the book's title describes a major transition in Bosch's life. Reluctantly—very reluctantly—Bosch agrees to look into the murder on behalf of his half-brother, Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. Investigating murder cases isn't new to Bosch, but doing it for the defense rather than the prosecution is a big deal for the one-time LAPD homicide detective. He's sure to catch major grief from his former colleagues in the department. 

Bosch has no plans to make this shift permanent, but to many it's a betrayal. He has himself dropped relationships with officers who did the same thing in the past. Even his teenaged daughter is upset with him because he's usually protecting the world (and, by extension, her) from the bad guys and here he is working to put one of them back on the street. 

Bosch is currently at odds with the LAPD. He was suspended after being caught taking a file from his captain's office, putting his retirement in jeopardy. Haller is representing him in his lawsuit against the city and the department. He's just broken up with his girlfriend, too. She thinks he's too consumed with the loss of his career and finding a new place in the world without a badge to be involved in a relationship. He can't argue the point. 

However, despite the negative associations with being a defense investigator, Bosch soon discovers that he enjoys a kind of freedom he'd never experienced as a cop. He doesn't have to brief or report to anyone, and the rules of evidence and procedure don't apply to him in the same way. Neither is he constrained by the stingy budget of a police department, nor are his actions under the sort of constant scrutiny that got him into trouble with the LAPD in the first place. It takes him a while, though, to adjust to the fact that he's working for his brother's client and is subject to the same rules of privileged communication as a lawyer.

DNA evidence is hard to challenge, though, and Foster hasn't been entirely straight with the police about his whereabouts at the time of the crime. The fact that the main witness against him has vanished bothers Bosch. Connelly doesn't hide the fact that there are some bad cops involved in this case, but it takes a long time for Bosch to untangle the convoluted chain of events that led to Park's murder. A trivial matter involving an expensive watch is the loose end that Bosch tugs on and pursues doggedly. These rogue cops may also have been involved in the accident that took Haller's regular investigator out of play and, in parallel to the investigation, Connelly shows how these two corrupt officers debate how far they are willing to go to protect themselves. How many more people they can kill before the whole scheme spirals out of control.

Harry Bosch and Ian Rankin's John Rebus are two fictional cops who have aged themselves out of their jobs. Their creators, though, have chosen different ways of addressing this corner into which they seem to be painted. Rebus finds ways to get himself reattached to official investigations as a consultant, whereas Bosch has now taken a path from which there may be no return. Now that he's crossed to the dark side, is there any going back?

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