The Black Echo - INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION Hardcover – January 1, 1992
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Connelly does not resort to pacing, chase scenes, and the like to drive the story. Nor does he leave the reader hanging at the end of a chapter, then change the scene in the next chapter, just to create tension. He just tells a damn good story and lets it play out. I 'm glad there are 20+ books on Harry Bosch, because I'm already addicted.
In The Black Echo, Harry is a twenty-year veteran of the force, "the famous Harry Bosch, detective superstar, a couple books written about his cases. TV movie. A spinoff series." He is "an outsider in an insider's job." Harry has bought a house in the hills with money he received for the film made about his work, and he has already alienated most of the cops who work with him, especially the brass in LAPD headquarters at Parker Center. He is under investigation by Internal Affairs, not for the first time and certainly not for the last.
The Black Echo, the first Harry Bosch novel, tells the tale of a protracted and difficult investigation into a daring year-old bank heist. As the investigation unfolds, complications steadily arise. Harry is doggedly pursued by two thuggish detectives from Internal Affairs. Key characters are murdered. Harry becomes close to Eleanor Wish, the FBI special agent with whom he is paired in the investigation. (In later novels, she will become his wife and mother of his daughter.) And the case takes on implications that go far beyond Los Angeles. It's an engrossing and suspenseful story.
More importantly, however, The Black Echo serves to provide the backstory about Harry's combat experience in Vietnam early in the 1970s. The "black echo" of the title crops up again and again, reflecting Harry's deployment as a "tunnel rat" pursuing Vietcong soldiers through the network of tunnels they have dug throughout much of the country. "Out of the blue and into the black is what they called going into a tunnel," Connelly writes. "Each one was a black echo. Nothing but death in there. But, still, they went."
Harry explains further in a conversation with Eleanor: "It was the darkness, the damp emptiness you'd feel when you were down there alone in those tunnels. It was like you were in a place where you felt dead and buried in the dark. But you were alive. And you were scared. Your own breath kind of echoed in the darkness, loud enough to give you away. Or so you thought. I don't know. It's hard to explain. Just . . . the black echo."
Don't forget to check out the series on Prime. If that does not peak your interest in this author, just wait for more seasons. I know I am.
BOSCH is a methodical, traditional, superstitious and intriguing detective!!
As one of Bosch's bosses was talking to him, Harry stopped listening to what he was saying and all that Bosch could think about was this guy's eyebrows. . . "Bosch decided that watching his eyebrows was like watching two caterpillars charging each other." THEN later. . . "The caterpillars seemed to quiver with fear. " LOVE IT! !
When he teamed up with J. Edgar for the first time . . .
Hieronymus Bosch . . . Jesus, that’s your first name?” Edgar said. “Harry for short. How’d your momma come up with that one?” “She had a thing about fifteenth-century painters. It goes with the last name. Go check on the file, then call me back. I’ll wait here.” “I can’t even pronounce it, man.” “Rhymes with ‘anonymous.’” “Okay, I’ll try that.
“Hieronymus Bosch.… The only thing your mother gave you was the name of a painter dead five hundred years.
“Harry, be careful with that stuff about an inside man. If you go trying to sell that and it’s not true, you could give your enemies all they need to bury you.” Enemies, Bosch thought. Who are my enemies this time?
" Bosch had taken a shower, but his clothes were as fresh as the ashtray in a used car."
I really liked HARRY BOSCH - THE BLACK ECHO !!! And I have really enjoyed all of the Seasons of BOSCH on Amazon Prime! Great show! I am looking forward to the next book BLACK ICE and to the next season! Thanks Michael Connelly , I AM NOW A ADDICT OF HARRY BOSCH!
Top international reviews
Harry is best described as "a detective who would do the right thing no matter what the cost. A man with a sharp worn code of conduct. A classic outsider.".... In The Black Echo we learn about Harry's activities as a tunnel rat during the Vietnam war and how the horrors of this underground hell helped shape him as a detective with the will to survive and a loner's code of justice. When the body of a fellow "rat" Billy Meadows is discovered in a drain outlet, Harry is determined to find the perpetrator responsible and bring justice to his onetime comrade in arms. In this endeavour he is joined by FBI agent Eleanor Wish, a relationship develops that becomes personal and leaves Harry wondering if her intentions are honourable or does she harbor an underlying agenda.
The weakness of the story is the plot; dirty money profits from Saigon laundered as diamonds/precious stones and kept secret in a bank vault in downtown LA. The only way to retrieve the hidden stash is to tunnel deep into the innards of the bank. In contrast the strength of the story is the superb charactization of the main players. Bosch, Eleanor Wish and Deputy Chief Irvin Irving who appears to be on a one man crusade against what he views as underhand tactics by a maverick lone detective.
As always Michael Connnelly is razor sharp in his acute observations of the human spirit....."Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, and that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story."....."He was a worn-out old man whose eyes had quit caring about anything but the odds on three year olds"..."I believe that shit happens. I believe that the best you can do in this job is come out even".......
What starts out as a mundane 'tick the boxes' trip for a suspected OD unfolds into an absorbing, helter-skelter investigation for Harry Bosch.
As each layer of the plot is pared back before us we begin to wonder if, as in real life, nothing is ever as it first appears.
We're on a train journey where we pull slowly out of the station and as the chapters tick by we pick up speed; the final scenes whistle past but you cannot take in the view, you are glued to the page. Those nagging doubts about certain snippets of information you've been fed finally resolve themselves into an answer you were hoping not to be told. A superbly crafted story.
The book itself follows the well used loner cop with a few personal problems, but the characters are well drawn and interesting. The story itself is well crafted and interesting, and the city is really nicely described. Given the book is now 25 years old, there are some bits of the that make you smile given todays connected world. Of course any Vietnam vets are now far older than Bosch's character, but that did not bother me in the least, and I am happy to have a new series of books to read.
Short version: I totally recommend this - it's utterly riveting. Get it!
Longer version: Not really a TV person but bc of Prime, occasionally watch pilot episodes of anything that looks interesting. With Bosch, I'm now in the middle of season 5. It's a bit grim but also utterly compelling. So figured I'd check out the first book (written in '92, so no cell phones: Maybe fellow Generation Xers who remember life before the cell phone/tech explosion will appreciate this more than millennials?) and even though things are slightly different (he's never married and Maddie doesn't exist yet) and events that happen in season 3 were sourced from this book, it's still so good!
I won't go into details, but the author's skill is phenomenal. I'm so glad to own this and look forward to working my way through the series and maybe even branching out to the author's other characters.
If you bear in mind this novel series was begun shortly after the 80s ended and don't expect things to be just like in the show, you'll probably get along fine with it.
I would recommend this book to readers who like a good, intricate story - allow time to get to grips with the language differences and abbreviations. I would consider reading more from this author.
Michael Connelly is so good at drawing the reader into the world of Harry Bosch and the city of LA that you can get lost for hours turning the pages.
All the characters have a place and a reason for being in the book and have a real depth.
Harry is an LA homicide detective but doesn't always go about bis work the way the department would like but he has an instinct and intuition that drives him to find the truth.
He teams up with the FBI and we are introduced to Eleanor Wish who reappears in later books.
If you have not read Michael Connelly I urge you to as you won't regret it.
The overall plot isn't so bad - but Harry is not a likeable character and, as no one else stands out as someone to empathise with, it's hard to care. I made it to the end but saw the plot twist coming.
I know this was an early book, from this author, so things may improve further into the series - but the writing style is clunky and it's very slow moving. Not what I'd call a page turner and I was really getting fed up with it and skipping paragraphs by the time I'd got to about 70%.
I got this free and have noticed it's now £4.31 - which I think is pretty steep for such an old book. I would have thought .99p would be more appropriate as I've def read better books.
I was, then, pleasantly surprised by 'The Black Echo', the first novel to feature Harry 'Hieronymous' Bosch, jaded homicide detective and Vietnam War veteran. Called to the site of a mysterious death, Bosch recognises the corpse as someone with whom he served in Vietnam, some twenty years previously. The body had been found in a reservoir overflow pipe near the Mulholland Dam, and the initial diagnosis suggests that this is merely another instance of a dysfunctional Vietnam veteran meeting their death through drug addiction.
Bosch could so easily have been a disastrously clichéd character himself. Having been discharged form the army he had entered LAPD and gradually risen to the Homicide Team. As the novel opens, though, we start to learn that his career has had as many downs as ups. He had been instrumental in capturing a serial killer, which had led to a local TV station paying him a fee to use his name for a sensationalist series, but his fatal shooting of a criminal in another incident had led to him being investigated at length by Internal Affairs. All this sounds rather familiar - just another disgruntled, unorthodox detective. Connelly does, however, succeed in retaining Bosch's credibility.
This novel also strays across different genres - while Bosch's unconventional thought processes drives the investigation forward, the book also falls soundly into police procedural territory. Yet Connelly also offers a frightening insight into the work of many of the American troops in Vietnam who literally fought underground. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army used hundreds of miles of tunnels through the combat zones, and teams of American troops would be sent down to try to destroy them, often finding themselves in horrific combat beneath the ground. Connelly marshalls all of this with great dexterity, all the more remarkable as this was his first novel.
I shall definitely be looking forward to reading more about Hieronymous Bosch.
Harry Bosch is a Vietnam vet, a tunnel fighter, one of the handful of Americans that struggled to battle the North Vietnamese in the dimension that they totally dominated - underground. Harry's also a nascent media star for breaking a couple of big cases and, thanks to consultancy work on translating those case histories into movies, he's the owner of a (small) house overlooking the Hollywood studios. It's a great backstory and Harry never fails to engage and hold the reader's attention.
The terrific central characterisation of Harry is backed up by a fine portrayal of FBI Agent Wish as Harry's sidekick/lover/and sometime antagonist. This is combined with a really solid plot -- I didn't see the twist coming at all, although the hints were there - the central bank `caper' has just the right amount of twists and complexity for a highly entertaining read.
If I had a reservation about the book it would be some pretty clunky dialogue. It's a nit-picking point, but Connelly hasn't (rather than `has not') shortened any of the words in the speech. It makes lots of the characters sound pompous and formal. It might have been the way to do it in 1992 when the book was written, but it's a definite negative now. I also had trouble with some of the minor characterisations, the IAD chief, Irving was a bit of a cliché for instance.
Overall, these are minor quibbles, and I had no problem giving the book four stars.