Longtime readers of this blog may recall that a few years ago, I read quite a few of Michael Connelly’s novels in a fairly short span of time, and predictably enough burned myself out on his work for a while. But I’ve continued to read one now and then, and since this is Connelly Month on the excellent Rara-Avis mailing list, I thought now would be a good time to try another.
A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT is a crossover novel, pairing Connelly’s regular series protagonist, LA homicide detective Harry Bosch, with Terry McCaleb, the former FBI profiler who’s the hero of the novel BLOODWORK. It’s a natural enough move, and I thought it worked very well. I also like the way Jack McEvoy, from Connelly’s novel THE POET, makes an appearance as well. I’m a big fan of authors who try to create a consistent shared universe within their work, and with this novel it becomes clear that there are no real stand-alones among Connelly’s books. Any of them can tie up at any time with the others, and I like that. It’s also a good reason to read them in order, rather than skipping around.
(To digress for a moment, I do this myself in my own work, crossing over characters from one series and one pseudonym to another. For example, some of the characters from my Revolutionary War series PATRIOTS, written under the name Adam Rutledge, show up much later, story-wise, and play important parts in one of my Wagons West prequels written as Dana Fuller Ross. These somewhat obscure connections add some fun to it for me as a writer, and I hope they do for the readers who recognize them, too.)
But to get back to A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT, nobody is better than Connelly at slowly peeling back the layers of a plot, and that quality is very much in evidence here. Unfortunately – and this is the book’s only real flaw as far as I’m concerned – the plot here winds up being a little thin and easy to figure out early on. However, Connelly’s prose is readable enough, and the characters of Bosch and McCaleb are compelling enough, to keep the reader’s interest. There’s a great action scene near the end, and as usual there are unexpected bursts of beauty and poetry in the midst of Connelly’s mostly lean, unadorned prose.
In my opinion, Michael Connelly’s first four Harry Bosch novels – THE BLACK ECHO, THE BLACK ICE, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, and THE LAST COYOTE – are quite possibly the best four-book run in all of mystery fiction. A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT doesn’t rise to that level, but it’s still highly entertaining and well worth reading. I plan to read more of Connelly’s work soon, but I’m going to try not to burn myself out on it this time.
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