I’ve been listening to The Black Box, a Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly. It turns out he uses an “I could kill you now, Mr. Bond” setup for his climax. I expected more of Mr. Connelly, whose strong suit is his plotting. Harry Bosch has been taken prisoner by the killer he has been tracking down. He is at the killer’s mercy. The killer points a gun at him. It’s all over for Bosch! But what does the killer do? Instead of killing Harry, he handcuffs him to a wooden post in a barn and leaves him to go kill some other folks. Why? Connelly has Bosch come up with a reason eventually, but boy, is it lame.
So Bosch is left by himself, and guess what? Spoiler alert!! It turns out the Bosch is an expert at unlocking handcuffs with random stuff! He gets hold of a watch from a corpse the killer left at his feet and uses the winding pin to escape from the cuffs. (The watch itself has been brought to our attention with a standard Chekhov’s gun maneuver — why, look at that interesting watch that this guy who is obviously going to get killed is wearing!)
This sort of thing is fine in The Heat and James Bond movies, where plausibility just doesn’t matter. But it was just too over-the-top for this sort of novel. Connelly can do better.
Interesting. I’ve been listening to my first Harry Bosch novel (The Narrows, I think), and while I’m enjoying it, I noticed the occasional really sloppy bit of writing. The author has Harry sit at a laptop and open stuff. He describes in detail how Harry (or maybe it was the other guy) moved his finger over a flat square under the keyboard, then pressed a wide button under the flat square. I thought, wow, this must be an older book than I thought–maybe written when the first laptops with touchpads were just out. But it wasn’t! It was published in 2004! Why did he think we needed an explanation of how to open a file on a computer? Why didn’t an editor catch that and pencil it out? It was like he was trying to make his word count for the day, and then he never edited it.
A “feature” of Connelly’s writing is that he over-explains everything. This can be interesting when you don’t know some police procedure he’s describing. Not so much when you already know about what he’s describing.
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