Monday, December 17, 2012
Review of The Black Box by Michael Connelly (Orion, 2012)
As police procedurals go, The Black Box was pretty average (especially compared to some of Connelly’s earlier books in the series). The focus of the plot is interesting, but it felt a little too linear and straightforward, lacking in subplot (beyond his usual run in with his bosses and internal affairs), layers and twists or turns - Harry unearths all the clues, but doesn’t seem to have to work that hard to locate them. The ending in particular felt shallow, rushed and lacked credibility in parts, using weak plot devices to create a bloody climax. After 18 outings (I've read 15 of them), Harry seemed somewhat tired and drawn, a shadow of his former self trapped in a cycle of endlessly reliving his modus operandi as a solo, maverick cop who bends rules and annoys his superiors whilst unpicking puzzles lesser men would fail to solve. For the series to have new life my feeling is the stories are going to need to become more complex, layered and believable, and some of the secondary characters are going to have to come to the fore and there be sustained interaction. I’m sure there are plenty of Connelly fans out there who will disagree, but whilst The Black Box was entertaining enough way to spend a few hours, Connelly is capable of spinning more gripping and engrossing tales (as evidenced by his back catalogue).