Review of ‘A Darkness More Than Night’ by Michael Connelly

A-Darkness-More-Than_nightMichael Connelly, A Darkness More Than Night (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

So wrote Friedrich Nietzsch in Beyond Good and Evil, a statement which poses the central question in Michael Connelly’s A Darkness More Than Night. In the course of conducting an unofficial investigation into a murder, former FBI profiler Terry McCaleb comes to believe that LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch is the doer. Evidence suggests Bosch had the means and opportunity, while Nietzsche’s observation supplies the motive.

Here’s the basic problem, though. From the outset of the novel, we know that Bosch has been set up. Not because Connelly suggests as much early on, but simply because with six Bosch novels under our belts, we know that he would not commit this kind of murder. The abyss has not yet gazed into him with that level of intensity.

And that presents Connelly with a major problem. Readers approach fiction with a willing suspension of belief. Writers must provide them with ample reasons to keep willing it. When you’re suggesting that the hero of a popular mystery series has done something that readers know he couldn’t have done—and therefore didn’t do—you’re pushing that willing suspension to the breaking point.

Connelly is an excellent writer. If anyone could create a plausible story about his hero’s descent into vigilantism, it would be Michael Connelly. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he’s failed to do so.

I say that with regret. I enjoy Connelly’s novels immensely. Blood Work, the first McCaleb novel, was excellent, and I look forward to The Narrows. I have written 5-star reviews of the first six installments in the Bosch series, and I will continue reading the remaining fourteen books in the series.

Even so, this novel was a disappointment. A necessary link in the chain of Connelly’s Bosch-McCaleb-Haller universe, but a disappointment nonetheless.


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