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The Poet By Michael Connelly Hardcover – January 1, 1997
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MY REVIEW FIVE STARS*****
I finished reading this classic novel early Saturday morning, and it may say something about my status as a party animal, but this book was what I will remember most about the July 4th Holiday. It was a re-read of course. I read it when it was originally published in the mid-90's, and it made a lasting impression on me. I was a seasoned reader of mysteries, police procedurals, and psychological suspense thrillers even back then, and I recognized that THE POET was truly something special, a story that was destined to be ultimately classified as a timeless literary triumph.
I must confess that I have been a devoted Michael Connelly fan for literally decades. His writing style is absolutely addictive, and it is dark, visceral, matter-of-fact, yet truly poetic at other times. In THE POET the reader is able to glean a true picture of journalism as a career choice in general and what it truly means to be a crime reporter in particular. Obviously, Connelly was an award-winning journalist before he became a household name and a Best-Selling Author known all over the globe. He actually worked the crime beat in LA, and it is my opinion that when a writer pens a story about what he has actually experienced, "what he knows", that the authenticity of the narrative veritably leaps off the pages. The main protagonist in THE POET, Jack McEvoy, is a Crime Reporter. His character is well developed in the novel, and he is a sympathetic hero despite his self-awareness about his own flaws and weaknesses in the dog-eat-dog world of journalism. I liked Jack, and he was portrayed as a flesh and blood man with insecurities that humanized him in my eyes. His relationship with the beautiful Rachel Walling showcased Jack's flaws but simultaneously provided the reader with a convincing tale that read as much like a true crime novel as it did fiction.
Rachel Walling was similarly a likeable heroine, albeit her character while having depth was not fleshed out as fully as the main protagonist Jack McEvoy's. There is really no superlatives that would be over-the-top for this unforgettable chase for a devious serial killer. In my mind, it is truly an unforgettable, "unputdownable", and timeless classic psychological thriller. It is a hybrid that contains elements of a mystery novel as well as a gritty crime procedural.
It is interesting to note that at the time THE POET was published in 1996 that Connelly had released only four Harry Bosch Books if I am figuring this correctly. THE POET was a promise that Michael Connelly was truly a master story teller with an addictive writing style capable of greatness as an author. The ensuing years would see that early promise fulfilled many times over.
No Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller making an appearance in this one, just Jack McEvoy a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News who has just learned that his twin brother Sean, a Denver homicide detective has been found dead in his car – an apparent suicide. The suicide note is perplexing and Jack is certain that this is not a suicide. Of course, no self-respecting crime reporter would fail to investigate on his own and Jack’s mission is personal. His investigation uncovers a nationwide succession of recent cop suicides all which contain one sentence notes quoting from the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.
The plot thickens – the FBI gets involved – and the chase is on. Any further information would ruin the rest of the story - - and far be it for me to ruin another readers joy of discovery.
FYI - while it is a mystery containing murders the descriptions of crime scenes are not particularly gory or extreme.
Love to read and over the past ten, twelve years I've picked up most of the Connelly books, Bosch, McEvoy, Haller, Terry McCaleb... all deeply developed and somewhat troubled characters (just to name a few). Their personal struggles entwine with whatever the story line is about and adds greatly to the read. I've read Spillane, John D MacDonald, Ross MacDonald (Lew Archer was excellent) and so many others. All fine authors. I won't say that Connelly tops them, and frankly I don't think he does or they him, but his writing is gripping (the Bosch series on Amazon is excellent and 'that' Bosch seems to be a bit more prescient than the books Bosch character but that is just perhaps TV) and as many have said 'hard to put down'. The POET is simply outstanding work with excellent character development, complex and intriguing stories within the 'story' that leaves you almost a bit breathless... and a finale that resonates with all the needed ingredients of great crime novels! This is one of the best reads in this reader's long line of fine authors.
Top international reviews
Overall I found this to be a very, very well written book. The main character of Jake McEvoy I found to be interesting and the twists and turns of the story that he uncovers are very exciting and make the book a real page turner. The only real negatives I have about the book are that I did not find the ending to be as exciting as the rest of the book. I will not use a spoiler but the ending left me with a number of questions as to why certain things happened as they did. Despite this I would very much recommend this book to a friend and am glad that I decided to read them in chronological order rather than skip ahead to the next Bosch book.
The e-book had a lot of punctuation errors that were disconcerting until I got used to them. Missing full stops; full stops in mid-sentence and odd instances of capitalisation. There were also quite a few spelling errors or perhaps examples of spell-checker-gets-it-wrong. I've never encountered so many in one book. Quite odd.
However Jack McEvoy is an excellent character, book was a great read, story suitably complex and ending unexpectedly entertaining.
Look forward to no.2 in series