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.


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.


Review of ‘Blood Work’ by Michael Connelly

Blood-WorkMichael Connelly, Blood Work (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1998). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle 

When I purchased Blood Work online, I thought I was buying the sequel to Trunk Music. “The Also By Michael Connelly” page in the front matter of Trunk Music listed Connelly’s books by publication date, however, not by which character series they were part of. So, when Blood Work arrived, I was surprised to be reading about former FBI agent Terrell “Terry” McCaleb instead of LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.

Surprised, but not disappointed. Blood Work is a good story in its own right (with an prospective reference to Michael “Mickey” Haller Jr. seven years before The Lincoln Lawyer was published). It follows McCaleb’s investigation into the murder of Gloria Rivers. At first, her murder appeared to be the random act of a convenience store robber. As McCaleb digs into the case at the request of Gloria’s sister Graciela, he uncovers a deeper, more sinister background to the case that hits a little too close to home.

Blood Work was not quite the page-turner other Connelly books have been, at least not in my opinion. That only means it took me a weekend to read it instead of a day. Connelly is a great storyteller and has become my favorite crime novelist.

I close with a piece of dialogue between McCaleb and his neighbor Buddy Lockridge. It describes perfectly why crime novels and murder mysteries are so popular:

[Lockridge:] “Good books are fast reads. You read crime novels?”

[McCaleb:] “Why would I want to read made-up stuff when I’ve seen the real stuff and can’t stand it?”

Buddy started the car. He had to turn the ignition twice before it kicked over.

“It’s a much different world. Everything is ordered, good and bad clearly defined, the bad guy always gets what he deserves, the hero shines, no loose ends. It’s a refreshing antidote to the real world.”

“Sounds boring.”

“No, it’s reassuring. Where to now?”

Reassurance that the good guys beat the bad guys in the end. That’s why I continue reading Michael Connelly. If you’re interested in other books involving Terry McCaleb, check out A Darkness More Than Night and The Narrows. And if you want to read Connelly’s Bosch books in proper order, make sure to check out his website.


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

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