The Black Ice

Michael Connelly

The second novel from Michael Connelly is another in the classic Harry Bosch series, one of the crime fiction's most enduring characters.

 

Narcotics office Cal Moore's orders were to look into the city's latest drug killing. Instead, he ends up in a motel room with a fatal bullet wound to the head and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.

Working the case, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is reminded of the primal police rule he learned long ago: don't look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together.

Soon Harry's making some very dangerous connections, starting with a dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard to the back alleys south of the border. Now this battle-scarred veteran will find himself in the centre of a complex and deadly game - one in which he may be the next and likeliest victim.

The Black Ice begins on Christmas night, when Harry Bosch hears a report on his police scanner that a body has been found in a sleazy, cheap Hollywood hotel. Bosch is annoyed that he didn’t get a call about the body since Hollywood is his territory. Feeling left out of the “loop" Bosch goes to the scene and discovers that the dead man has been tentatively identified as Calexico “Cal” Moore, a detective who’d been a part of a special anti-drug squad. It seems that Moore has committed suicide. At first, that theory makes some sense, especially when it’s strongly hinted that Moore had “crossed” – gone dirty. But soon, the forensic evidence suggests that Moore might have been murdered. Bosch wants to investigate, but he’s distanced as far as possible from the case. In fact, he’s given eight other cases left unsolved by a fellow police officer who’s taken a stress-related leave of absence. When Bosch discovers that one of those cases may be related to Moore’s death, he’s convinced that there’s more to the case than a cop committing suicide because he’s crossed.
Bosch has a personal interest in Moore’s death, too. He had arranged a meeting with Moore to get some information on a case involving a drug-related death. At the time he’d felt that Moore was holding something back. Now, it seems that case, too, is related to Moore’s death. The more Bosch looks into the case, the more strongly he believes that Moore was murdered and that Moore’s murder had to do with the illegal smuggling of “black ice” – a potent mixture of drugs – from Mexico. When he finds out that the source of the drugs is the same town in which Moore grew up, he decides to find the answers he’s looking for in Mexico. So Bosch heads south, much to the consternation of his superiors, who want the Moore case quashed, and the DEA, who don’t want him really involved. In the end, Bosch finds out the surprising truth about Cal Moore and his death.
One theme that runs throughout this novel is the effect of the past on the present. Moore’s past, in particular, is central to the novel. As Bosch searches for answers in the Moore case, he comes to believe that the more he knows about Moore, the closer he’ll get to the truth.

Most of Bosch’s growing-up years were spent in foster homes or reform schools. Those experiences have profoundly affected Bosch’s attitude towards the past, towards others and towards Moore, and we learn about them bit by bit, as the novel moves on. Connelly uses flashbacks to tell some of Bosch’s story, and weaves those flashbacks into the narrative. So as Bosch examines Moore’s past, he also examines his own.

Another element we see in The Black Ice is the geography of the area. The story begins and ends in Los Angeles, and we get a real sense of the city in Connelly’s description.
Possibly the most compelling element of this novel, though is the character of Harry Bosch. In fact, the novel is as much about the unfolding of Bosch’s character as it is about Calexico Moore. Bosch is a complicated person who seems to be a study in contrasts. On one hand, he is reflective, on the other he’s man of action. He gets a rush of adrenaline-induced excitement, for instance, while he is breaking into a building where he suspects some illegal activity is going on. He wants to be involved in a DEA bust of a Mexican drugs ring, and gets the same rush again, on the night the team moves in on the ring.
Bosch’s personal life is also complicated. He himself knows that he’s lonely. He lives in a house up in a canyon with no-one but a semi-feral coyote for company. 
The complex character of Harry Bosch and the Southern California/Mexico setting are woven throughout this novel, and the novel’s focus on the gradually-evolving story of Cal Moore keeps the plot moving. 

Review by Margot Kinberg, Confessions of a Mystery Writer

About Michael Connelly:

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing.
After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.
After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. 
Connelly has won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award, Shamus Award, Dilys Award, Nero Award, Barry Award, Audie Award, Ridley Award, Maltese Falcon Award (Japan), .38 Caliber Award (France), Grand Prix Award (France), and Premio Bancarella Award (Italy). 
He was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime, that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000.  

He lives with his family in Florida.