Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

Review published on October 31, 2017.

Harry Bosch is one of those detectives I catch up with every once in a while rather than follow religiously (this is his 22nd outing). I’m pleased to say on the evidence here he is in rude health, although a little bit older. Two Kinds of Truth is a really good American police procedural and Bosch is a great character so I’m glad he hasn’t retired yet. Fans of Bosch will love this novel and the uninitiated crime fan will enjoy it too.

Retired from the L.A.P.D. for three years, Bosch now works part-time on cold cases for the San Fernando P.D. He’s been successful in solving several serious crimes. He’s happy keeping his own company and living a quiet life but that’s about to change. Bosch is preoccupied with a fifteen-year-old case that was never cleared: the disappearance of a young mother, Esme Tavares. He is taking another run at the file when he gets a surprise visit from an old partner and an L.A. Deputy District Attorney. The Convictions Integrity Unit is looking to release Preston Borders, a man Bosch put away for a violent murder 30 years ago. New DNA evidence suggests that the victim in the case was actually assaulted by another rapist. Bosch has nine days to prove that the original murder conviction is safe, something he is sure of. The problem is the new evidence has got everyone convinced of Borders’ innocence. Bosch knows it’s a scam but how did Borders pull it off? Things start to get really sticky when Bosch also has to deal with a double homicide at the local shopping mall, as the most experienced murder investigator the chief wants him to run things. The brutal gunning down of two workers in a pharmacy (drug theft doesn’t seem to be the motive) has the whole department on edge. At the same time, Bosch is not sure whether his old department has his back over the Preston Borders case. Maybe they intend to hang him out to dry; after all, if Borders is innocent, somebody has to carry the can for putting him away. The pharmacy case takes some strange twists while the Esme Tavares case has to go on the back burner and Bosch has to do a little covert investigation into Borders before he gets set free.

Two Kinds of Truth is accomplished and smooth. The novel has an easy feel perfected over years of refining style and character. Connelly doesn’t feel the need to recap or redefine detective Bosch, everything the reader need to know is apparent from the way he talks and acts. Even if you have never read a Harry Bosch before you will have no trouble gauging his character or enjoying this story as a stand alone read. Bosch is a classic loner (a good old noir trait), partly by circumstance but also by choice. He likes to play his own game, trust his own judgement and when he believes he’s right go full steam ahead. His single-minded sense of justice makes him a difficult man to get close to or compromise with. From a reader’s perspective Bosch’s righteous indignation is infectious so Connelly gets us on side right from the start.

The combination of the two cases running in parallel, one current and one that means digging into the past, makes for a more complex read. However, the structure also helps develop Bosch’s character and it feels more realistic, more like you would expect in this environment. There is also an element of contrast between a very modern type of case and an old style investigation. Semi-retired Harry Bosch should know better but he even goes under cover on a risky play that could break the case but is as dangerous as anything he has ever done. Connelly drops subtle hints about Bosch aging although messing with him is still not advisable; he’s old but he’s sharp as a tack.

I was a little unsure when Connelly introduced Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer into the story, dropping in crossover characters from other novels/story chains can be a little self indulgent. However, this works, Haller and his investigator Cisco are helping Bosch clear his name when mud starts getting slung around on the Borders case. Haller’s role suits the plot and allows Connelly to change the pacing of the novel with a little courtroom drama. If you just want action all the way you may not be so impressed with this strand to the plot, I was.

This is a thriller that holds your interest, maintains a good pace and keeps you guessing and there are a couple of twists that make it more satisfying. Bosch has to learn a lot about who he can trust, how sometimes people you don’t know can be your friend whereas those you think are on your side may not be. It is Bosch’s search for the truth and desire to right some wrongs that drives the novel.

This is an entertaining read, it feels fresh and highly polished. For me, this didn’t quite take off but I had fun reading it. If Two Kinds of Truth is your bag, Connelly has not long published the first in a new series called The Late Show.

Paul Burke 3/3

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
Orion 9781409145554 hbk Oct 2017

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