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Onyx reviews: The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 9/24/2016
Harry Bosch's reputation with the LAPD took a hit after he successfully sued
the department for forcing him into retirement. That doesn't mean he's no longer
on the job, though. He's working as a private detective while simultaneously
acting as an unpaid reserve officer with the San Fernando Police Department,
which is suffering from recent budget cuts. This situation sometimes causes a
conflict of interest, because Bosch is legally forbidden from using official
police department resources to work on his private cases. That kind of
regulation has never stopped Bosch before.
His current private case involves a wealthy industrialist, Whitney Vance, a
Howard Hughes protégé whose businesses are worth billions. Now in his
mid-eighties and in failing health, Vance is putting his affairs in order. When
he was a young man, he got a girl pregnant, but he has no idea where that child
may be, or if there are any surviving offspring. If there are, he wants to make
sure they are included in his will, so he hires Bosch to track them down. It's a
very cold case, since the pregnancy occurred some sixty years ago at a time when
unwed mothers hid their conditions and gave away their out-of-wedlock
Still, as anyone who does any genealogical work knows, there are records in
the most unexpected places and people sometimes have long memories. Bosch
quickly gets a strong and encouraging lead, even though some of the trails lead
to literal dead ends. He is hampered by the fact that he has to maintain
absolute confidentiality about the goal of his investigation. With so much money
in play, and huge corporate interests involved, he could end up with a target on
his back if people find out he's looking for heirs to the fortune. Even when his
client stops returning his calls, Harry, who was well-paid up front, continues
his search. The case has become intensely personal, because one of the offspring
he tracks served in Vietnam at the same time as him. They were probably on the
same boat at the same time for a short period.
In parallel, while digging through the open/unsolved cases at the tiny San
Fernando headquarters, Bosch discovers a connection between a number of rapes in
the area. He is able to prove that a single perpetrator is responsible for these
attacks, which changes their approach to solving the crimes. As the case heats
up, Bosch is caught between working on it and the Vance case. He has no fixed
hours with San Fernando, but he feels obligated to follow up on new leads as
they come in. When he abandons his SFPD colleagues to go to San Diego to
interview people who might provide information about the Vance family tree,
ignoring major developments in the serial rape case, he can't help but feel
guilty when things go bad in his absence.
He's also being followed, probably by someone related to the Vance case, so
he regularly needs to take measures to elude his surveillance, some of which is
very high tech. Once things heat up with the quest for the heir, Bosch consults
with his half-brother, the so-called Lincoln Lawyer.
Bosch falls very much into the lone wolf category of private detectives. He
has no current love interests and the only person in his life of any importance
is his daughter, who is now at university. Any time something bad happens at
work, his thoughts go immediately to her. They have a decent relationship,
although there's a growing distance caused by the fact that she's no longer at
home. Bosch also has a long history of trouble with authority figures, and these
cause conflicts in San Fernando. Not everyone on the job is happy he's there,
even if he's working for free.
Another solid entry in this long-running series, which is now being adapted
to television on Amazon's streaming video service.
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