City of Bones by Michael Connelly: A review

City of Bones (Harry Bosch, #8)City of Bones by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My husband and I recently watched the Amazon series Bosch based on Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books. I thought it was excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys that sort of thing. The story told in City of Bones was one of the ones that was dramatized for the television series, but there were differences between what appeared on screen and Connelly's written version. I think I like the book better, although the dramatization was interesting also.

The story begins on New Year's Day when a dog returns to his owner, while they are walking in the Hollywood Hills, carrying a bone he has dug up. His owner is a retired doctor and he recognizes the bone as the humerus of a child. He contacts the police and Harry Bosch, working the holiday, takes the call.

Harry goes to the area and begins the search for other bones. He finds them pretty easily. They are scattered over an area up in the hills. It looks like they have been there for a long time.

Soon the Medical Examiner and anthropologists are on the scene and, in time, it is determined that the bones have been in place since the late '70s or early '80s. Through dogged investigation, Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar are able to confirm that the bones belong to a child who disappeared in May of 1980. The medical examination of the bones confirms further that the child - a 12-year-old boy - was beaten to death.

Not only was the victim beaten to death but throughout his short life, he had been systematically and cruelly abused. Bosch is deeply affected by this discovery, at least in part because of his own troubled childhood, and he vows to find the perpetrator of this crime and bring him to justice.

As we follow the twists and turns of the investigation, the body count begins to mount. A completely innocent man, who lives in the neighborhood where the child's bones were found, commits suicide because, in the course, of the investigation, an old secret of his is unearthed and it is leaked to a reporter who makes the assumption that he is the guilty person. The resulting notoriety of the media mania is more than the man can take.

On the trail of a potential witness, the police operation attempting to bring the man in for questioning goes horribly awry and a rookie police officer, seeking her own version of glory and heroism, is shot. Harry witnesses what happened, putting him in a difficult position because he knows that the man they were attempting to capture was not resisting and had nothing to do with the shooting. This is made even more difficult by his personal relationship with that police officer and the fact that she dies from her wound. (This was one of the differences between the book and the TV show.)

Through all of this, the mystery just seems to get murkier and it appears that Bosch and his team are not making any headway; however, persistence pays off and finally the solution to the mystery comes together, but before the final piece of the puzzle can be put in place, another person is killed.

So, three dead bodies join the bones of the dead child, but, in the end, the stubbornness of Harry Bosch wins the day. Solving murders is a sacred mission for him. It is his religion, and he always holds fast to that. It makes him a very good detective. It also makes him one difficult bugger to work with, even when he isn't deliberately trying to step on people's toes.

The ending of this novel was a bit of a surprise (no spoilers) and it will be interesting to see where the series goes after this. There are twelve more (so far) books in the series, so we know that Harry will be around to entertain us for a while. And that's a good thing.  

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  1. I read a condensed version of this book many years ago and found it haunting (I still remember many major twists in the story). Funny though, I imagined Harry Bosch more a Columbo type than the Bosch cast in the Amazon series (which I haven't watched but have seen images of).

    1. That's interesting. I have always seen Bosch as more of an anti-Columbo. He's driven by his past to be an advocate for the victims whose murders he investigates, which lends a strong emotional component to his investigations. Actually, the actor who played Harry Bosch in the series was very close to my image of Harry, both physically and in his personality, from having read the books.

    2. I meant physically. This book describes a somewhat tired and weary Harry Bosch, I think.

  2. Harry Bosch is one of my favorite detectives. I had no idea there was a filmed version of these books--thanks for the suggestion! Oh shoot, I bet it's only available on Amazon, and I just have Netflix.

    1. As far as I know, it is only available on Amazon, but, who knows? It may eventually come to Netflix.


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