Book Review: The Wrong Side of Goodbye

It almost seems as if for years Connelly has been trying to kill off his detective Harry Bosch.

He has Harry quixotically take early retirement only to bring him back as a private detective (Lost Light). That unhappy period ended with Harry returning to duty on a three year scheme for retired detectives (Cold Case). Meanwhile Connelly opened a new sequence of novels featuring a defence lawyer, Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer). Nevertheless Harry Bosch could not be kept down: he started to turn up in the Haller stories (The Brass Verdict). Harry and the LAPD finally implode with Harry suing the Police Department for illegally forcing him into retirement.

Fans need not worry. Harry has found the perfect hole: he is working part time for no pay in a small town department with only two full–time paid detectives. San Fernando, only three square miles of community, is the only town in the San Fernando Valley not to be submerged by the expansion of Los Angeles. Perfect!

Harry can combine working with a badge part–time and taking the odd case as a private detective. So here he is working two quite separate cases. As a private– eye he searches for a possible heir to a vast industrial fortune. His 85–year–old childless client, Whitney Vance, when aged eighteen in 1950 fell in love with a Hispanic girl, Vibiana.

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However, when she became pregnant Vance succumbed to his father’s pressure to abandon her. Did she have the child and if so are there descendants? Harry, the ‘cold case’ expert has never had a colder case but he has one faint thread and off he goes. Vance has sworn him to secrecy and Harry has no illusions about the risks his success might bring, both to himself and any heir he locates.

Meanwhile back In San Fernando Harry has used his cold case experience to nose out a serial rapist he christens ‘the Screen Cutter’. Looking back through the old unsolved files he realises four rape assaults committed in San Fernando over a period of four years all have the same peculiarities in their modus operandi.

Harry and the department’s only full time ‘crimes against the person’ detective, Bella Lourdes, form a good team, and their hunt for the criminal forms a story within the larger, quite separate story of Harry’s search for the missing heir. Harry stubborn persistence, aided by his Vietnam War experiences, draws him closer and closer to finding an heir but his success in that case diverts his attention from the rapist case at a vital moment. Bella Lourdes follows a lead only Harry could have thought of – and disappears. Read on!

Author: Michael Connelly
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

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