Connelly, Michael. (2010). Nine Dragons. New York: Grand Central.

As soon as I reached the crime scene, I knew Iíd seen it all before. The MO checked out. The blood-spattered corpse, the pattern of clues, the forensic work, more crimes, the kidnap, the chase, the climax, the twist in the tail. Yes, I was on the trail of a serial thriller. 

It was going to be a bumpy ride. I lit a cigarette. It tasted like the bottom of a nullah.

Detective Hieronymus Bosch. Harry to his friends. Harry Bosch and I had more history than the Holy Roman Empire. Iíd first encountered him in The Black Echo case back in ninety-two. Since then, Harry had crossed my path a dozen times. Iíd watched him tune up for Trunk Music, romance The Concrete Blonde, and cruise Echo Park. Harry was still with the LAPD and I noticed that he still hadnít been promoted. But what the hell. I was still a book reviewer. Who said life was fair?

I could see that age had served its subpoena on Harry. The moustache was grey, the movements slower. He had to put on his glasses to survey the crime scene. Thirty years on the force hadnít improved his temper either. But Harry could still walk the walk. Procedural was his middle name. He went over the scene for clues like a chimp searching his brother for fleas.

I lit another cigarette. It tasted like that bit of durian stuck to the floor of your fridge.

The victim was Chinese, that much was clear. But someone wanted Harry off the case. Next thing he knew, thereís a message on his phone telling him his daughter in Hong Kong has been kidnapped. Yes, it seems those triads could teach Jane Austen a thing or two about persuasion.

Bosch was in Hong Kong before you could say AsiaMiles. His itinerary through the city amassed more bodies than Repulse Bay Beach on a Sunday. From Chungking Mansions to Tuen Mun, the trail of cadavers pointed to Harryís own style of rescue mission. After nine violent deaths in one day, the Hong Kong police very much wanted Harry to help with their enquiries. But hereís a tip. If you want a third-world police force off your back, just threaten to go to the Los Angeles Times. It worked for Harry Bosch.

I lit another cigarette. It tasted like a plumberís handkerchief.

Back in LA, Harry closed the case and began life as the single parent of a troubled teen. The story was over, but I knew Bosch would be back. He just needed time  change his shirt.

My kind of detective? Not exactly. The action had been nonstop, the plot was snappy. I donít mind the violence, but the humourlessness and self-righteousness leave an aftertaste.

I closed the book and threw away my cigarette. I had to get out more. (DK)


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