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The Narrows    by Michael Connelly order for
by Michael Connelly
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I kind of thought that Harry was due some R&R from his tortured self after the final revelation in Lost Light, but of course that can't happen - Hieronymus Bosch is an angst-driven character. Though his newfound daughter Maddie has become his 'shield of joy', Harry Bosch and Eleanor Wish still have their differences, and have only settled into an uneasy truce.

We're shocked at the beginning of this thriller by the death of another of Connelly's major characters, whose widow hires Harry to investigate. Point of view alternates between PI Bosch and FBI agent Rachel Walling. She's pulled back from Dakota exile by the re-emergence of 'the Poet', a notorious serial killer of cops who turned out to be her boss, Bob Backus, and caused the Bureau great embarrassment, some of which was taken out on her career. The author lets the reader see that Backus is stalking Rachel (and clearly has his own plans in motion) and that her territorial FBI colleagues are using her as bait. But the Poet is watching all of them, seeing them as 'ants between pieces of glass ... unknowingly doing his bidding.'

Harry's investigation intersects with the FBI's discovery of multiple bodies buried at Zzyzx, 'the asshole of the universe' in the Nevada Mojave desert. I like both Rachel's view of her colleagues as 'empaths' (who feel too much and burn out) or 'morphs' (become like those they hunt), and also Bosch's sensible perspective on the killer. Though Harry feels sorry for the abused child the Poet once was, he 'felt nothing for Backus the man but a cold resolve to hunt him down'. And he does just that, in unofficial partnership with Rachel. After explosive action in a desert brothel town, they follow the trail to Harry's home territory. There another old friend becomes bait, and Harry shares with Rachel his mother's advice to stay out of the 'furious power' of 'the narrows' during heavy rainstorms.

As is often the case, the ending almost finishes the hero off too, but Harry makes it in out of the rain for a final surprise (I definitely did not see it coming) and 'the kind of day you felt you could build a future on.' Michael Connelly only gets better.

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