The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

Wrong Side of Goodbye Michael Connelly.jpgHarry Bosch’s journey with the LAPD came to a fittingly acrimonious ending in the final pages of The Burning Room a couple of years back. But while his departure made sense from a character perspective, I had my concerns for the future of Michael Connelly’s long-running series. We’ve seen Harry leave the LAPD before (which produced one of my favourites Bosch novels, Lost Light) but the blue religion and department politics play such a key role in Connelly’s work. How could Bosch possibly endure?

We got a partial answer with last year’s The Crossing; a rollicking team-up with the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller. It set up the obvious question: who is Harry Bosch without the badge? And how can he carry on his mission without it? Because working for Haller wasn’t sustainable; not in the long-term. The Wrong Side of Goodbye provides all the answers we need, and sets the series up for the foreseeable future. Bosch’s LAPD years are over, but the character’s best years might still be ahead of him.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye follows two distinct investigations, which unravel around each other but never intersect. One involves mega-wealthy industrialist Whitney Vance, who hires Bosch as a private investigator to locate a potential heir. His other case involves a serial-rapist dubbed the Screen Cutter, which Bosch is working as a part-time reservist for the San Fernando Police Department. Although it’s an unpaid position, it allows Harry the chance to once again wield a badge and carry on his mission, which is all the payment he needs.

The novel delves into Bosch’s Vietnam years, and his early years in an LAPD uniform. While Connelly has touched on these background details in the past, it’s never been to this extent, and he leaves a ton left over to excavate in future instalments. I always wondered whether Connelly might produce a novel set in the Vietnam or just after, focused entirely on Bosch’s war years or his early years with the LAPD; The Wrong Side of Goodbye is a far more nuanced approach, and I hope we see more information drip-fed to us in future books.

Michael Connelly’s latest is another masterpiece of crime fiction. Some authors get to a point where you run out of superlatives for their fiction; Mr Connelly reached that point long ago. The Wrong Side of Goodbye is the standard to which police procedurals should be held. No doubt the author will raise the bar even higher with his next release.

ISBN: 9781760293833
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 1-Nov-2016
Country of Publication: Australia

Review: A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

9780571321032.jpgSarah Ward’s A Deadly Thaw has the perfect elevator pitch:

In 2004 Lena Fisher was arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew. A decade later, a year after her release from prison, Andrew is found murdered in a disused mortuary.

You’re intrigued, right? Piqued, even, because you’ve got a few months to wait for its release. Which is precisely how I felt, reading the blurb, having dug A Deadly Thaw out from our shared reading copy pile at Pages & Pages. I wasn’t looking for a new book to read. I was just killing time, waiting to close up shop. But there was no way I could let it back into the wild after that tease. No way. So I dropped what I was reading, and on my way home from work, began reading Sarah Ward’s second novel. And kept reading, non-stop, until the mystery unravelled. When I was done, still a little breathless, one thing was clear: I’ve discovered a new master of the police procedural. And I urgently need to track down her first book.

Set in Bampton, Derbyshire, I am tempted to describe A Deadly Thaw as Midsomer Murders with a harder edge. Which, depending on your opinion of the show, will either be greatly enticing, or a complete turn-off. So, perhaps a more literary reference would be appropriate; A Deadly Thaw reminded me of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, specifically when Siobhan Clarke began playing a vital role in investigations, and had entire chapters dedicated to her inquiries, and her personal life, too.

Ward’s novel has a large cast – both police officers, and civilians – but never risks drowning in them. The novel remains firmly on track, building momentum, thanks to the twists and turns and red-herrings thrust at the reader with expert aplomb. It begins when Andrew’s body is discovered in the disused mortuary, and ends when the case wraps up; no rambling prologues or epilogues. It’s a police procedural, with characterisation intermingled with the investigation. Too often, such novels donate chapters to casework, then halt that momentum for a chapter on a detective’s personal life, or deep reflection. In A Deadly Thaw, Sarah Ward layers her characters with substance, but never at the cost of narrative impetus.

The location – Derbyshire – is refreshing, too – away from the familiar urban landscape of London or Manchester. The novel has a small-town feel without coming across as overly quaint, and Ward showcases the benefits and negatives of policing a close-knit community.

With A Deadly Thaw, Sarah Ward has stepped forward as a writer of commanding gifts, and poised to mark her name on the genre. Jump on the bandwagon early!

Category: Crime & Mystery
ISBN: 9780571321032
Publisher: Faber
Imprint: Faber Fiction
Pub Date: October 2016
Page Extent: 384
Format: Paperback – C format
Subject: Crime & mystery