- - Thursday, December 14, 2017


By Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, $29, 400 pages

In veteran crime writer Michael Connelly’s previous novel, “The Late Show,” he introduced readers to a new character, Renee Ballard, an LAPD detective working the night shift.

Although I enjoyed the novel and found Renee Ballard to be an engaging and interesting character, I missed reading about Mr. Connelly’s more well-known detective character, Harry Bosch. Like many readers, I enjoy reading about old, familiar series characters and their latest adventures in new novels.

In “Two Kinds of Truth,” Mr. Connelly has brought back Harry Bosch. This is Mr. Connelly’s 20th novel about the dedicated and dogged LAPD detective, whose personal credo is, “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

Mr. Connelly chose to write the Harry Bosch series in real time, so his character has aged accordingly. In “Two Kinds of Truth” the veteran detective is retired from the LAPD and is lending his considerable talents and skills to the San Fernando Police Department, where he is working as a volunteer on cold cases. As Mr. Connelly notes in the novel, San Fernando is a Southern California city barely two and a half square miles and surrounded on all sides by the city of Los Angeles.

“When Chief Valdez reached out to Bosch and said he had an old jail cell full of cold cases and no one to work them, it was like a lifeline had been thrown to a drowning man. Bosch was alone and certainly adrift, having unceremoniously left the department he had served for almost forty years, at the same time that his daughter left home for college. Most of all, the offer came at a time when he felt unfinished. After all the years he had put in, he never expected to walk out the door one day and not be allowed back in,” Mr. Connelly writes. “At a period when most men took up golf or bought a boat. Bosch felt resolutely incomplete. He was a closer. He needed to work cases, and setting up shop as a private eye or defense investigator wasn’t going to suit him in the long run.”

Harry Bosch is also asked by the chief to help the San Fernando three-person detective squad investigate the robbery and double-murder of father and son pharmacists. Concurrent with this investigation, Harry Bosch looks back at an old LAPD case of his that has resurfaced.

The lawyer of a long-imprisoned murderer who raped and strangled a young woman has produced evidence that suggests Harry Bosch framed an innocent man. As Harry Bosch left the LAPD on bad terms, he is concerned that his old LAPD partner Lucio Soto and others in Los Angeles don’t have his back.

Evidence in the pharmacy murder case leads Bosch and San Fernando detective Bella Lourdes to a clinic suspected of being a “pill mill,” a criminal operation in which a doctor, clinic and pharmacy conspire to prescribe and distribute narcotics illegally. The detectives staked out the clinic and watched eleven homeless-looking people pile out of a van and go into the clinic.

Harry Bosch wonders out loud what kind of clinic doesn’t have a sign out front. The illegitimate kind, his partner responds. Detective Lourdes relays to Harry Bosch what a medical board investigator explained to her: “They go to the so-called clinic, get a prescription, and then go collect the pills at a pharmacy. They’re paid a dollar a pill. I guess it’s not bad if you’re picking up sixty pills a pop.”

Depending on the dosage and what kind of pill, the pills are sold on the street for a dollar a milligram, Detective Lourdes explained. Oxycodone scrips usually come in thirty-milligram pills.

“But he said the holy grail of hillbilly heroin these days is the eighty-meg dose,” Detective Lourdes said. “Also something called oxymorphone. It’s the next big thing. The high is supposedly ten times as powerful as you get with oxycodone.”

The medical board investigator turns out to be a retired LAPD detective, Harry Bosch’s old partner, Jerry Edgar. Jerry Edgar introduces Harry Bosch to a DEA special agent who asks him to go undercover into the dangerous and seedy world of “pill mills,” prescription drug abuse and Eastern European organized crime.

Along with this harrowing case, Harry Bosch works to expose what he considers a travesty — the potential release of a convicted murderer and damage to his reputation.

Even with his long experience, Harry Bosch learns something new — there are two kinds of truth: the kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried in darkness.

“Two Kinds of Truth” is a well-written and interesting crime thriller that exposes the all-too-real crime of pill mills and illegal prescription drug addiction.

Fans of Harry Bosch, as well as readers new to the series, will enjoy this crime novel.

Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism.

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