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the drop

12 july 2013

The Drop is a good police procedural, of the variety where our hero has to work on two cases at the same time, sampling different kinds of evil. He solves the mysteries early enough for the book to turn a bit rhetorical, but not too unpleasantly or long-windedly, and then we're out of there.

The title has several meanings. A real or made-up phased-retirement program in the LAPD is called DROP, an acronym for something or other. Harry Bosch has retired once before, and is in line to retire once again, but series fiction needs his contributions, and a subplot here has him extending his DROP again and again so he can fight more crime.

Meanwhile, a man has dropped from an upper floor of a Hollywood hotel – after having been dropped from a taxicab by a driver whose wife is about to drop a baby – and there's not much of him left on the sidewalk. He's the son of one of Bosch's longtime nemeses, a prominent city councilman – who oddly enough demands that Bosch run the investigation. Suicide, obviously: but in the world of crime fiction, suicides become murders become suicides become murders till you don't know where you're at anymore.

The other main plot involves a rapist who leads Bosch to a prolific serial killer. The story is twisty, but here's where the weaknesses show through. For one thing, the rapist's doctor carries on a perfunctory romance with Bosch, just unsexy enough to be rather embarrassing. For another, the serial killer, after an exciting scene where Bosch and his sidekick David Chu winkle him out from his hiding place, turns out to be so over the top that you quickly lose belief and interest.

Connelly, capable of taut and suspenseful writing, also can't resist settings where predators are waiting for us in every mall parking lot, which in turn give him a chance to rant about how the death penalty should be quicker, commoner, and kill criminals deader.

Connelly, Michael. The Drop. New York: Little, Brown, 2011.