three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
44-Jan-Feb-2010
user_rating: 
0

A-Nine DragonsMichael Connelly is one of the most recognizable names on today's crime fiction scene. Nine Dragons is the 15th installment in his popular Harry Bosch series--and may, according to some critics, be one of the best.

The Story: In a tough Los Angeles neighborhood, John Li, a Chinese liquor-store owner, is murdered during an apparent robbery. Detective Harry Bosch recognizes Li, who had offered him refuge during the Los Angeles riots more than a decade earlier, and is determined to even the ledger by solving the case. But when Bosch's daughter, who lives with his ex-wife in Hong Kong, is kidnapped, all bets are off. Using the fortune on the matchbook that Li gave him as a guide years before--"Happy is the man who finds refuge in himself"--Bosch, never quite at home either in Los Angeles or in his own skin, travels abroad to face both ruthless gangs and his own demons.
Little, Brown. 384 pages. $27.99. ISBN: 9780316166317

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"To say that Nine Dragons is coiled tight with suspense understates Connelly's accomplishment in portraying Bosch at the cusp of a new world, where the refuge foretold in that matchbook fortune has such portentous resonance and implications. And though Connelly remains a master at detailing the intricacies of ‘the job,' it is Harry's longing for reunion and connection with his ex-wife and daughter, the overwhelming vulnerability he feels as a father, that makes Nine Dragons another standout in the series that should satisfy all readers, whether they are new to Boschworld, occasional visitors or devoted denizens." Paula L. Woods

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"There are red herrings aplenty and, as always, the reader figures things out in step with Bosch. But what remains most interesting is the new dimension added to the character--a man who has evolved over the series of 15 novels to become ever more interesting and real." Robin Vidimos

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"What would be maudlin sentimentality in lesser hands is hammered down to steely human drama. This is Bosch at his sharpest and Connelly at his most engaging." Katherine Dunn

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Nine Dragons works as a gripping police procedural, an intense character study and an international thriller. ... Connelly is one of the best living crime writers and the consistency of his work continues through Nine Dragons." Oline H. Cogdill

Times (UK) 3 of 5 Stars
"Very readable, but marred by exaggerated action sequences." Marcel Berlins

Entertainment Weekly 2 of 5 Stars
"Michael Connelly writes fast-paced thrillers that critics praise for their sharp characterizations and fluid storytelling. The appearance of a third Connelly title in a year would be excellent news if Nine Dragons ... didn't read like it had been scribbled during a red-eye from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, the two cities where the slapdash action unfolds." Jennifer Reese

Critical Summary

By the time their series reach a 15th installment, authors tend to fall back on the status quo, putting familiar characters in recognizable situations. Not so with Connelly, who continues to explore the darkest reaches of Harry Bosch's psyche in ways that will surprise even Connelly's die-hard fans. In fact, it is the author's deft combination of police procedural and taut psychological suspense that separates Bosch from other fictional crime detectives. A few critics thought that the condensed time frame led to some unbelievable scenes, but the majority hailed Nine Dragons as one of Connelly's best. Introducing plotlines that will influence Bosch well into the future (his career in books has so far covered nearly two decades, starting with the 1990 Edgar-winning Black Echo), Nine Dragons once again illustrates Connelly's magic touch.