The Overlook by Michael Connelly: A review

The Overlook (Harry Bosch, #13; Harry Bosch Universe, #15)The Overlook by Michael Connelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It begins with Harry Bosch, newly reassigned to Homicide Division of the LAPD, getting a call from his lieutenant in the middle of the night. A body has been found on the Mulholland overlook. It is a man who had been shot execution-style with two bullets to the back of the head. The body was found next to his car which had its trunk left open. On the floor of the trunk, indentations in the carpet showed that something very heavy and square had been positioned there, but whatever it was is now gone.

Bosch and his new partner, Ignacio Ferras, are assigned to the case, but very soon the FBI shows up. It develops that the heavy thing which had been carried in the car's trunk was a lead "pig" which contained radioactive cesium. The murdered man was a medical physicist who worked with several hospitals that handled radioactive medical material. The investigation reveals that, at the last hospital he visited, he took the hospital's entire supply of the material. He left a note in the safe explaining what he had done.

Prior to his visit to the hospital, the victim had been sent an email with an attached picture of his wife, naked and tied up on their bed at home. The sender of the email told him that she was being held hostage and would be tortured, raped, and killed if he did not deliver the radioactive cesium to a designated location. He did as he was told but then he was shot and killed and the cesium taken. The police found his wife exactly as depicted in the photograph but otherwise unharmed.

The tug-of-war over the case begins almost immediately. To Harry, it is a murder case, one he is determined to solve. To the FBI and the rest of the federal government, it is a potential terrorist case. The amount of cesium involved could do untold damage to the city and its population.

One of the FBI agents on the case is Bosch's former lover, Rachel Walling, which just complicates matters further. The usual bureaucratic territorial struggles that seem to occur in every Bosch mystery ensue. Cooperation between the agencies and the LAPD is meager. Often the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing.

Harry, though, doggedly sticks to his murder case on the theory that if they find the murderer, they'll find the cesium. And, anyway, he isn't entirely convinced on the terror angle. He thinks there might be another motive for the murder.

I found The Overlook to be atypical Connelly in that the telling of it seemed a bit disjointed. I read afterward that the story had been serialized in a magazine originally, so perhaps that accounts for my impression that it just wasn't quite as smooth as the usual Connelly mystery.

On the whole, though, it was a good story, a good read. Even second-rate Connelly is better than most mystery writers can offer.

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  1. I agree. Connelly is the only mystery writer I've read for ages. I just started reading 'America's First Daughter' by Dray and Kamoie. It's the story of Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter. It promises to be a great read. P.x

    1. I have not heard of that book, but it sounds quite interesting. Jefferson and his family relations could fill many volumes. And have!

  2. I would say that Connelly is my husband's favorite, though he is also liking Robert Crais lately.

    1. I've only recently started reading Crais and he is very good, too. In fact, I think it may be almost time for another one of his.

  3. Having being serialized may indeed explain the disjointing. Too bad you didn't like this one as much as usual.
    Why don't you try Frederick Forsyth? He is fantastic! And no series; every book is a standalone.

    1. I have read a few of Forsyth's books several years ago. He is quite a good writer.


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