Pros: Great characters and details; fascinating plot
Cons: Slow, sometimes dry, tangential pacing
Rating: 4 out of 5
Also published on Epinions.com.
I’d heard a little about Michael Connelly’s books but never read them. So when I came across A Darkness More Than Night at the library, I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t really remember much of what I’d heard other than that he was good, so I went into this without many preconceptions.
I do have to stop and thank Mr. Connelly for breaking my library bad luck streak. This is the first book I’ve picked up at our local library that hasn’t, to be frank, sucked.
Terry used to work for the FBI as a profiler until he had a heart transplant and retired to marry and have a child. Now an old detective friend has come to him for help on a difficult case, and even though his wife doesn’t want him to get involved, he can’t resist the pull. The trouble is, the more he works on the case, the more it seems to lead back to one detective Harry Bosch, a homicide detective Terry has worked with before and respects more than a little bit. Worse, these suspicions are coming to light just as Harry’s acting as the key witness in a high-profile murder trial. And worse still, someone’s decided to leak the story to the press. Believing Terry to be the leak, the police bring in the FBI and kick Terry off the case—just as he learns that he might have missed something, and that it’s possible Bosch isn’t a cop-turned-vigilante after all.
Connelly covers everything in exhaustive detail, from the process by which Terry profiles the killer—and Bosch—to each moment of the courtroom testimony in Bosch’s high-profile case. It rides a fine line between fascinating and dry, illustrative and dull, and I think which side of the line it falls on depends very much on the individual reader. It certainly gave the story a great deal of authenticity, and for people who particularly enjoy following each and every detail of investigation and trial it’s ideal. For me, however, the courtroom material in particular stepped over the line into overly-dry, using short, staccato sentences that evoked a court transcript more than anything. I imagine for some people that’s a plus, but for me it was a minus.
Connelly also has a tendency to go off on extended tangents about one or another past event. While he does tie them all together in the end and they do all become relevant, it does give the book a rather slow, meandering feel at times. Again, something that some will enjoy while others won’t.
This book is obviously very carefully constructed, and I fully believe that each of the things I wasn’t entirely thrilled with were done very deliberately and will appeal to some segments of Connelly’s audience; I mention them primarily so that you can choose for yourselves whether they’re characteristics you’d be likely to enjoy or not. The plot itself is extremely well-constructed and interesting, with several interesting red herrings of various types and quite a few well-detailed characters that I certainly enjoyed spending the length of a book with.
If you enjoy highly-detailed mysteries and procedurals with plenty of detective-work and courtroom drama, then A Darkness More Than Night makes quite a good read.
This is probably obvious, but just in case: this book is not for children. There are some very adult details included regarding the murder scenes. The book isn’t overly graphic, but it doesn’t shy away from bluntly stating the details of the cases involved.