We last saw Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch in The Burning Room, handing in his badge, suspended from the LAPD on a trumped up charge due to his actions taken to crack an unsolved murder mystery. This suspension means no more salary from his Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), and no access to his DROP funds. Harry is appealing the suspension, but that will take months, and his daughter’s upcoming college expenses won’t be cheap.
Left with few options, Bosch had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the city, claiming the department conspired to get him into early retirement. For this he hires the only person he can think of: defense attorney Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer.
The Crossing, the 20th book in Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, puts his grizzled detective at a crossroads of sorts, real and metaphorical, as he nears the end of a long and eventful career. In all honesty, none of Connelly’s books have been masterful deconstructions or psychological studies, but they needn’t be; Harry has always been a straightforward character, methodically tracking down villains and criminals who would do him or his beloved City of Angels harm.
Despite his action-hero status, Bosch personifies the hard-boiled detective archetype that’s become so common on television serials and movies that it’s easy to forget that Connelly ages his character in real time, and that age may have finally caught up with him.
By the rules of pulpy fiction convenience, Haller is also Bosch’s long lost half-brother, and comes with a teenage daughter the same age as Bosch’s. You could say he’s the antithesis of his crime fighting sibling, a street warrior applying his considerable gifts to keep those charged with heinous crimes – often by people like Bosch – out of prison. Guilty or not, as one of Haller’s many smiling bench and bus advertisements say: “Reasonable Doubt for a Reasonable Fee. Call the Lincoln Lawyer.”
Haller has repped plenty of guilty clients, something he’s not ashamed of, but this one is different: Da’Quan Foster, an ex-gangbanger from the notorious Rollin’ 40s Crips gang, now charged with the brutal rape and murder of Lexi Parks, a 38-year old assistant city manager in West Hollywood who was married to a deputy Sheriff in Malibu. Parks face was so disfigured by the attack it practically defied belief, and the crime was big news.
Haller’s go-to investigator, the freakishly large Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski, was injured in a freakish motorcycle accident while working the case. Cisco thinks it was no accident, but setup or not, his injuries leave Haller short an investigator, and he knows just the person who might be able to help his client. With the Lincoln Lawyer representing Bosch in his lawsuit against the city, he thinks the two can work together on Foster’s case, one that would require the ex-detective to cross the line.
Foster is innocent, Haller tells Bosch, a detective with over thirty years experience, who feels differently, almost naively so. “Every client is innocent. Every client is getting railroaded, set up,” he tells Haller. “I don’t have a second thought about anybody I ever put in the penitentiary.”
For Bosch, a Vietnam vet, switching sides would make him the worst of all things, “a Jane Fonda,“ a traitor. “It’s crossing to the dark side.” He thinks back to other retired detectives who found themselves in a similar situation. “He had dropped relationships with those guys as though they were criminals themselves. The moment he heard someone had crossed, Bosch considered him persona non grata.”
As Haller hands over the murder book, a discovery package of facts and info collected by the LAPD about the case at hand, he contemplates the choice he’s about to make by crossing the line. He’d love nothing more than to leave this all behind, focusing instead on restoring his 1950 Harley Davidson motorcycle. “Like the one Lee Marvin rode in The Wild One.”
The job of the investigators, Harry explains, is to find the crossing, “the place where the circle of the victim’s life overlaps the circle of the predator.” Where the predator first encounters his prey. And therein lay the mystery: Foster had stayed clean for over a decade, becoming a self-taught painter and living off his paintings (which he signs DQ). He’s married now with two kids of his own, even teaching art to local kids afterschool and on weekends. The only evidence that connects Foster to the crime was semen found on and inside the victim’s body, a perfect DNA match to the accused.
Complicating matters is that Foster’s only alibi witness, James Allen, was murdered and left in a dark alley. Allen was a male prostitute, the type the local cops called a “dragon”, disparaging LAPD slang for drag queen, meaning anything from transvestite to transgender. Sometimes, Harry notes, police reports abbreviated dragon simply as “DQ”. Another clue, perhaps?
The facts of the case, as they are, don’t add up. Did Lexi Parks own a guard dog? What could possibly connect Foster and Parks, who lived worlds apart? What catches Bosch’s trained eye is the empty box of a Audemars Piguet, a watch whose $14,000 price tag seems out of reach for a lowly deputy Sheriff’s salary. Where did the watch go? And what’s the significance of there being two of everything…?
And they’ll be more bodies piling up before Bosch is able to track down the real killer, or killers, racing from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back again. In many ways this is the real crossover, in Hollywood terms, that fans of Connelly’s two series, Harry Bosch and The Lincoln Lawyer, have been waiting for. However, this is still very much Bosch’s world and worldview, the narrator hovering just over his shoulder as he wades through the grime and muck of LA’s dirtiest alleys and mansions to uncover the mystery behind not just the heinous crime that Da’Quan Foster is charged with, but the larger picture.
With dozens of books, characters, and scads of criss-crossing scenarios and story history this exercise in world-building would seem like a logistical nightmare for any writer to keep in check. One of Connelly’s greatest skills as a writer is to make all readers, new and old alike, feel right at home and in the thick of the action, regardless if this is their first Bosch novel or their 20th.
The Crossing will please fans of both the Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller series, though for Connelly’s most famous character it represents a true crossroads; I’m genuinely curious to see where the grizzled detective – sorry, ex-detective – goes from here. Bosch is fast approaching 70 years old, and given the events of this book anything is up for grabs. Regardless, the Amazon series, Bosch, had a successful launch and will continue for at least another season. It seems likely that, in one form or another, we’ll be seeing plenty more of Harry Bosch in the future.