Friday, January 6, 2017

Trunk Music - Michael Connelly

   1997; 438 pages.  New Author? : No, but it's been a while.  Book 5 (out of 19) of the “Harry Bosch” series.  Genre : Murder-Mystery; Police Procedural.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    It seems pretty obvious.  The victim was killed by two shots to the back of the head.  His hands had been bound behind his back, and he’d been stuffed into the trunk of his Rolls Royce prior to being executed.  This was clearly a case of trunk music (see excerpt, below, for what that is), a telltale sign that it was a Mafia hit.  It’s just a matter of figuring out which city’s mob did the dirty deed, and who exactly pulled the trigger.

    And yet a couple of the minor details don’t quite make sense.  For instance, whatever had been used to bind or cuff the victim’s hands was removed after the slaying.  So were his shoes.  Why would a hitman do that?

    Oh well, whatever the reason, Detective Harry Bosch will figure it out in his investigation.  But tread carefully, Harry.  Sometimes the biggest obstacles to solving a case aren’t the bad guys.

    It’s your fellow law enforcement agents.

What’s To Like...
    The action in Trunk Music starts immediately.  The book opens with Harry Bosch arriving at the scene of the crime, and things don’t slow down at all through the final page.  Harry divides his time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Michael Connelly is obviously well-acquainted with these cities, as he gives detailed descriptions of Harry’s wanderings through both.

    The book was written in the 90’s, and it was neat to see some of the nostalgia from that decade.  American West Airlines is still in business, although Harry prefers to fly Southwest.  You use a VCR to watch videos, a teletype machine to send documents, and a “cellular phone” to call people.  I also liked Connelly’s tip-of-the-hat to the book “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

    This is both a police procedural and a crime-thriller.  The “whodunit” portion gets resolved at around 70%, and then the book kicks into Action-Intrigue for the rest of the way.  Plot twists abound; so do red herrings; and I liked it that Harry could reach wrong conclusions at times.  He can also be a bit of an a**hole, which is kinda neat.

    There’s a goodly amount of cussing, which would be expected in this type of story; and some sex.  The chapters are long, and of uneven length.  This is a standalone story, although a couple characters, Eleanor Wish and Roy Lindell, who appear in other books in the series, show up here.  The Kindle version ends at 88%, with the rest of the e-book devoted to a preview of the next book in the series.

    “You said he was put in his trunk and capped twice, huh? . . . Bosch, you there?”
    “Yeah, I’m here.  Yeah, capped twice in the trunk.”
    “Trunk music.”
    “It’s a wise guy saying outta Chicago.  You know, when they whack some poor slob they say, ‘Oh, Tony?  Don’t worry about Tony.  He’s trunk music now.  You won’t see him no more’”  (loc. 394)

    “Harry, you want the swag on this?”
    “Scientific wild ass guess.”  (loc. 468)

Kindle Details...
    Trunk Music presently sells for $6.99 at Amazon right now.  The other books in the series are all in the price range of $4.99 to $9.99.  

 “Kenahepyou?”  (loc. 588)
    The quibbles are few.  At one point, while searching a suspect’s home, Harry discovers a potential murder weapon, sealed in a plastic bag, hidden behind the toilet.  He’s excited because it’s another piece of evidence to tie the suspect to the crime.  But I was thinking, “Harry!  For cripes sake, the perp would never keep something like that around.  Someone planted it there!  Don’t even touch it!”

    Also, the ending, although suitably replete with excitement, felt a bit contrived.  There’s a lot riding on one of Harry’s hunches, including a whole slew of cops.  If Harry’s wrong, they’re gonna kick themselves for not staking out other possible sites.  Things work out of course, and Harry’s proven right.  But all the baddies get taken care of in a manner that felt just a tad too convenient.

    But hey, by then the plotline was Action-Intrigue, not Police Procedural, and it made for a thrilling climax.  So I’m not complaining.

    9 Stars.  For me, Trunk Music was a great page-turner.   My only question after finishing it was whether or not all the “bending of the rules” that Harry (and some of his colleagues) get away with really do occur in the real world.  If so, it makes me wonder if we’re closer to living in a police state than we realize.

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