The Concrete Blonde (Harry Bosch #3), by Michael Connelly

1994. Four years earlier Detective Bosch was working nights on the Dollmaker serial killer case, called such because the killer grotesquely painted his victims’ faces with their own makeup.

A prostitute called the hotline, certain she’d just escaped the Dollmaker. She saw “all the makeup and shit,” in his bathroom and ran for her life. When Bosch got to the apartment in Silverlake, he thought he saw another girl with the killer so he didn’t call for backup. No time. He busted in. FREEZE! THE COPS! But the naked hairless man reached for something under the pillow on his bed. In a split second Bosch had to decide whether or not to shoot.  He shot.

The story starts with Bosch’s civil rights trial brought by the Dollmaker’s widow. Judge, jury, and executioner Bosch killed her husband which denied him a chance to prove his innocence. Since there was never a trial, the identity of the Dollmaker wasn’t proved.

As the trial begins, another body turns up facepainted in the Dollmaker’s inimitable style. Did Bosch shoot the wrong man?

I’ve read a few of Connelly’s books and have liked some.  Others felt rushed, as if he worked to a publishing schedule rather than to the book’s. The Concrete Blonde is the best of his that I’ve read.

Bosch is caught in any cop’s worst nightmare, having to decide in a split second whether to pull the trigger or not. Then four years later having to defend his split-second decision to a jury of his “peers.” Those peers of course can never know what it’s like to make that choice.

The prosecuting attorney is good, very good. Bosch’s court appointed attorney is average, maybe less than average, and certainly much less experienced.

So is justice defined by the better attorney? Probably, yeah.

Bosch knows if he had to make the choice again, he’d do it all the same.

Connelly works the plot to keep the suspense taut, the twists well-timed, and the conclusion under wraps until almost the end. There are casualties along the way. Justice is a very dirty process.

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About M L RUDOLPH

M L Rudolph has worked for CNN among other American and British television and film companies. He has written for general interest and trade magazines and published his first novel, Facing the Son, A novel of Africa, on Amazon in 2011. More are on the way. Rudolph is a dual US/UK national and lives in Pasadena, CA. View all posts by M L RUDOLPH

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