Before a recent road trip up to Wisconsin, I found myself with no new audiobooks at my disposal — except for a bunch of Michael Connelly CDs that a friend of mine loaned me a long time ago. So faced with the prospect of a long, boring drive, I caved in and decided to listen to Trunk Music despite having sworn off Connelly and his favorite protagonist, detective Harry Bosch, a while ago. Here’s what happened.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): In the last Bosch novel, Harry was considering retiring from the LAPD for good, but I guess that didn’t happen since he’s back on the job full-time in this book.
As the novel opens, Bosch and his two partners Jerry Edgar and Kiz Rider have been called out to a murder scene near the Hollywood Bowl. A cop on patrol discovered a Rolls Royce just sitting there, and a subsequent investigation turned up a body in the trunk. The detectives’ initial take is that they’re dealing with a mob hit, so Bosch calls up the Organized Crime Division to give them the name of the victim. Organized Crime has nothing on the deceased, a film producer named Tony Aliso, so Bosch and his team stay on the case.
After processing the crime scene, Bosch gets a few good leads to work with. He goes to interview Aliso’s wife Veronica, and also checks out Aliso’s movie company, TNA Productions. Bosch discovers that Aliso is living a lavish lifestyle that doesn’t seem in keeping with the revenue his straight-to-video garbage would generate.
The investigative trail soon leads to Las Vegas, so Bosch and his team head there as well. Once in Sin City, Bosch learns that the mystery surrounding Aliso’s death is far more complex than he initially thought it would be. Harry also reconnects with disgraced ex-FBI agent Eleanor Wish, which leads to some major decisions regarding his personal life.
The plot goes through the usual twists and turns you’d expect from a Connelly novel, and then ends more or less as something from this genre would — with the cops coming out on top.
My Reaction: I have to admit that I liked this novel better than any of the previous books from the Bosch series. I guess those that have said the later works are far superior to the early stuff are right. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a completely converted Harry Bosch fan now. Far from it. It’s just that Trunk Music wasn’t as utterly predictable as the others have been.
I still haven’t warmed to Bosch at all, but at least Connelly had him making mistakes and wrong guesses in this book, whereas previously Bosch was always right. That’s a good change, but Connelly doesn’t go far enough. Why does Bosch still continue to treat other cops like shit? Why does he think he’s so much better than the rest of them? Why is his knee-jerk reaction to anyone who questions what he’s doing a snarling “Fuck you”? Give me a break! It’s stuff like this that turns Bosch into a cartoon character for me rather than a believable cop.
And the perp was once again a cop gone bad. What does Connelly have against the LAPD?
Anyway, I did like the fact that Harry got back together with Eleanor. I guess Connelly is determined to have love scenes/hookups in every single book, and with that being the case, this was a far more believable scenario than having Harry sleep with some random woman 2 hours after meeting her. I liked Eleanor from The Black Echo, so this pairing actually worked for me.
The murder mystery itself was decent enough, and I guess it was plausible that the two perpetrators would actually try to pull something like that off. I really don’t think it’s the stories I’m objecting to here; just the way Bosch is characterized.
Overall, I think Trunk Music is the best of the Bosch novels I’ve read thus far. However, that’s nothing but faint praise since I’m not exactly a fan of this series to begin with…!