Well I was reading this book as a "Daily Digest" entry but it was so good I haven't been able to put it down and write entries for the past few days. It was so good I snuck away on Christmas to catch a few chapters....so good I read it by the light of my iPhone while I should have been sleeping.....so good I let my kids wreak havoc on our living room while I finished it up.... do you see where I'm going with this? Nine DragonsROCKS!
Nine Dragons begins with the shooting of a liquor store clerk in South Central, a case assigned to Harry and his partner only because the Southside Division is thin for the week. What appears to be a gangbanger crime may actually be the work of the local Chinese triads (centuries old Chinese gangs), who were collecting payoffs from the liquor store owner. With little evidence to work with except for a bullet casing the vic swallowed, Bosch does the rounds at the Asian Crimes Unit and and forensics until he finally gets a lead on the Triad bagman who collected the vic's payoffs. Simultaneously Bosch receives a threatening phone call warning him to lay off the case, followed up shortly with video of his daughter being held hostage in Hong Kong. From here all hell breaks loose! Bosch is on the next plane to Hong Kong where he must work with his ex-wife and her Chinese boyfriend to find their daughter. I don't want to spoil the plot so from here on out you'll have to pick up the book to discover what happens in Hong Kong. I can say that placing Bosch in unfamiliar territory is exciting because it forces him to depend on others who may or may not be trustworthy. Since Bosch typically trusts no one except for a handful of his past partners the scenarios woven throughout Nine Dragonspit him against his own nature as cop.
What stood out to me in this book were the relationships Bosch has with the various characters: his newish partner Ferras, Detective Chu of the Asian Crimes Unit (I hope he makes a reappearance in future books), his daughter Madeline and ex-wife Eleanor, and most interesting of all, Sun-Yee, Eleanor's boyfriend with a shady past with whom Bosch is forced to depend on in Hong Kong.
Without spooling the plot line too much I have to say I guessed the outcome of the main case, not because the book is predictable but because it is unpredictable and I was looking for the least likely suspect. Voila! You hit paydirt if you guess the outcome that way.
I also enjoyed the fact that Nine Dragonskeeps things relatively realistic and not overdone. Connelly reigned in his impulse toward over the top endings with this one. I recently gave The Scarecrow to a relative who has never read Connelly and she complained that the ending was both lackluster and over dramatized. I couldn't have agreed more. I wish I had given her this book as a Connelly primer instead, I think it is one of his best!
Thank you Michael Connelly for keeping Harry Bosch alive and well! I can't wait to see where the next book takes him.......