21 January 2010

A book I didn't read

I had a long drive last month. I've found that audio books (I still want to call them books on tape) make long drives a lot more tolerable than any other minimal distraction. Freeway driving is tedious, but paying attention -- even semi-consciously -- is important. Music is not enough of a distraction. A video is too much. Talk radio is too episodic. But, a decent book, read by a decent actor is just about right.

The day before I left, I went to the Northfield Library and looked through the collection of books on CD. I came home with a 9 CD version of Michael Connelly's Echo Park.

It was only a 4-CD drive, but I was hooked on Echo Park. I spent time quietly listening to the last 5 CDs after I got home. Connelly is a great story teller. And it helps that Len Cariou was the reader. Cariou played Shakespearean roles in Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival, a neo-classical role at Minneapolis' Guthrie (that I remember as intimidating), and musical and comedy roles on Broadway. Cariou never tried to impersonate the characters in Connelly's story, but he acted the parts and kept the voices distinct.

Echo Park is a story that features Connelly's dective Harry Bosch as a 60-something guy reflecting on his career and life while being reminded of an old murder he couldn't solve. The reminder was a confession to the murder by a guy caught with two dismembered corpses in his van. However, things are hardly ever what they seem in these books. And Harry Bosch is hardly ever the normal cop. That's why he deserves to be the featured character in so many of Connelly's novels.

The beginning of the book is a flashback to a key scene in the old murder. Here's a very good video version of that opening scene.

There are politics, romance, suspense, danger, and action in this book -- as in all the other Harry Bosch novels. Those are reasons the books are so popular.

The other reason for the popularity is Harry Bosch. Connelly has been creating this character for so long, that Harry is a pretty complete "person." He's dedicated to justice for victims more than he is to law and order, exacting police protocols and political correctness. He's haunted by demons from his past and separation from his daughter who is growing up far away from LA. It's the edginess and the vulnerability that makes him attractive.

Son Jim pointed me to the Harry Bosch novels long ago (thanks, Jim), and now I've read three and listened to one. I have another on my bedside stand that I think I'll get around to soon.

Have you read Echo Park or another of Connelly's mysteries? What did you think? Write and tell this little part of the world about your reaction.

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