It seems like we’ve been getting a new novel from Michael Connelly every six months or so for the past couple of years. In most cases, this would be a bad thing because you’d worry the quality of the stories would suffer or that the author might experience some kind of burnout or that the author would become a generic name slapped on covers to sell books (I’m looking at you James Patterson.)
Thankfully, that hasn’t happened with Connelly’s novels, yet. Each entry has been a solid one and it only looked like he was picking up steam not only as a storyteller but also a writer. His last couple of books have been great and they really got me looking forward to his latest Harry Bosch novel, “9 Dragons.”
Which I suppose I could have had my expectations too stratospherically high that no novel could have lived up to it. For whatever reason, while I enjoyed “9 Dragons” I didn’t find it quite as rich a feast as the past couple of Connelly novels.
Bosch is assigned the case of murdered liquor store owner from China. Bosch finds the owner was paying off the Chinese triade out of a sense of respect for the tradition and heritage of doing so. Bosch tries to determine is the triad played some role in the shooting and if there is some larger conspiracy going on. Bosch apparently begins to step on some toes, leading to his daughter in Hong Kong being kidnapped as a warning to Bosch. Instead of giving up the case, Bosch heads to Hong Kong to find her.
“9 Dragons” works well enough for the first three-quarters of the story, driving along at a good pace and with revelations coming along at the usual Connelly clip–not too fast, but not so far between as to lose interest. It’s once things hit Hong Kong and a series of twists begin to show up that the novel begins to lose its momentum. It’s not a bad thing, but there are some moments in the final quarter of the novel that really took it out of the usual realm of Connelly’s work to something that was just pretty good by comparison.
I’d love to say more, but to bring them up here would ruin the end of the novel. I’ll say this–your comfort with the twists and whether you think that enhance or detract from the plot will determine how much you like the book. If you buy them, it’s a great book. I didn’t buy them and so it’s just an OK book.
But the good thing is that given how prolific Connelly has become, we’ll soon have a new mystery to (hopefully) wash away this disappointment.