Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Last Coyote: Michael Connelly, September 12—20, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
That is how to write a follow-up.
Bosch returns in The Last Coyote. He’s suspended following a violent altercation with Lieutenant Harvey ‘Ninety-Eight’ Pounds and is ordered onto a course of therapy as the alternative to being fired outright. While on gardening leave, he investigates the one case he finally has the time (if not authority) for: his mother’s murder.
Which element of genius should we start with? Let’s go with the therapy. It comes at the perfect time for a number of reasons. First, Bosch has been increasingly volatile throughout the series, which now peaks with him finally thumping Pounds and throwing him through his office window. As you do. There had to be a peak to the culmination of maverick recklessness, and this is it. Potentially, it could set Bosch in an entirely new direction, but not before he really pushes his luck with more bad behaviour.
More broadly, it’s a great pace change for the series. After three novels of Bosch slogging his guts out for LAPD, it’s refreshing to strip away all of his official duties and really get down to the nitty gritty of the character. Through his therapist, Carmen Hinojos, Bosch is forced to answer tough questions about his raison d’etre, his problem with authority and his maverick behaviour. It’s a treat to really explore the fascinating character that is Harry Bosch, and Hinojos is a tough-love foil who really shines in their set pieces.
During the suspension, Bosch tackles his mother’s homicide. It’s been a shadow over him since the series began, and though it’s surprising that a resolution is sought so early, it does feel like the natural time. It’s a case as twisty-turny as the best of them, and no amount of smugness is justified because something, somewhere will shock you. And nothing – I mean, nothing – will prepare you for the mother of all shocks during the course. Connelly pulls off his most audacious twist yet, and boy do the shockwaves hurt.
To nobody’s surprise, Sylvia is history as of page one. She is replaced by painter-turned-coital red shirt Jasmine Corian who has a few secrets of her own. The little page time she has removes Harry from his failed attempt at domesticity and her presence could be a very complicating factor in what is otherwise a very complicated life for Harry. Whether she returns for book six is yet to be seen, however her underlying darkness could prove interesting.
Perhaps the bigger upheaval for Harry is actually the loss of his home in an earthquake that took place between The Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote. Symbolic of his security, and a really nice setting for us to hang out as readers, it’s gutting to see it destroyed.
A spectacular plot brings out the best in Bosch, Irvin Irving and guest star Carmen Hinojos, making for an unputdownable page turner that is brilliant right to the end.