Review: The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly

Read: 25
To Go: 75

Book List:
21. The First Deadly Sin — Lawrence Sanders
22. Exclusive — Sandra Brown
23. White Hot — Sandra Brown
24. The Black Ice — Michael Connelly
25. The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly

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Finished reading: May 20, 2013

According to my Goodreads page, I doubled down on Harry Bosch novels on the 20th, and read two in one day. Good for me! (I don’t recall this at all, but I trust my Goodreads records.)

Detective Harry Bosch thought he’d stopped the Dollmaker, the notorious serial killer who murdered L.A. women and made them up as dolls post-mortem. But when his widow sues Bosch for killing the wrong man, it coincides with the revelation of a new victim bearing the Dollmaker’s signature, a detail that was never released to the public. In The Concrete Blonde, Bosch must determine whether he’s dealing with a copy-cat, or if the real killer has escaped justice for years, and in the process begins to question everyone around him.

The structure of The Concrete Blonde is a little different than other Bosch books: it begins and ends with the courtroom, and periodically returns there to mark Bosch’s legal progress, and to offer a touchstone for the reader. The narrative strategy gives the book a steady rhythm, and introduces one of Connelly’s strong but short-lived female characters, Honey Daniels. She is, in short, amazing: she’s a tough, smart, principled ball-buster. (Who, naturally, is treated with sexist disdain by male cops and lawyers alike, to mask their fear of her professional brilliance.) And she’s so good that she snookers someone close to the investigation into leaking information to her, which gives her the upper-hand in court and fuels Bosch’s growing sense of distrust and paranoia.

In a way, The Concrete Blonde centres around trust—earning it, breaking it, and asking yourself the hardest question of all: who can you really believe? As he and his partner, Jerry Edgar, look for someone who was intimately involved with the Dollmaker case, and who could’ve imitated the signature, Bosch finds himself questioning the innocence of the people he thought he knew.

And in his personal life, he keeps Sylvia away from his trial, knowing that it will prevent her from learning more about who he is. Though all she wants is for him to open up, he can’t trust that she’ll still care for him after seeing his unhappy past laid out in front of her. Bosch’s inability to truly trust anyone is what keeps him on the outside, maintains his lone wolf status, and The Concrete Blonde is the novel that best highlights it. Though in the final pages Sylvia offers him a way inside, any Bosch aficionado knows that their relationship can’t last. Their reunion is only a temporary balm on a wound that just won’t heal.

For me, that’s unfortunate. Having spent two novels falling in love with Sylvia Moore, and knowing that in the book that follows this one—The Last Coyote—she is quickly written out in a way that does injustice to her character, it stings to know she won’t stay. But in a series where the main character is the proverbial last coyote (see what I did there?), I guess it only makes sense.

Next book: The Retreat — David Bergen

– Kelsey

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One thought on “Review: The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly

  1. Pingback: Review: The Black Box — Michael Connelly | The Independent Review

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