Lucky me! I thought I had read them all, and then I run across yet another Connelly, this one from 2001, that I had somehow missed. A Darkness More Than Night teams up two of Connelly’s “heroes,” my favorite LAPD detective Hieronymous Bosch and retired FBI profiler and heart transplant recipient Terry McCaleb, in a doubly-complex crime/courtroom drama that satisfies on all fronts.
A man is found murdered in his own apartment, with no forensic evidence to pursue except for the weird way in which he was murdered—bucket over the head, naked, and face down in a reverse fetal position with his ankles attached to a ligature around the neck. The man, a lowlife named Edward Gunn who years earlier had murdered a prostitute but had wiggled out of the prosecution, was slowly strangled to death as he lost the battle to keep his knees bent. Desperate LAPD homicide investigator Jaye Winston turns to McCaleb, a brand-new father whose wife wants him out of the life and kept close to home, to assist with a profile of the murdered man and, soon enough, McCaleb turns up sufficient clues—from the Renaissance art world, no less–to believably albeit reluctantly point the accusing finger at a former friend, none other than Harry Bosch who turns out to have kept a “hate-on” for the sleazy Gunn all these years.
Bosch, meanwhile, is the lead investigator and key witness in an ongoing high-profile murder trial of Hollywood mogul David Storey, who had boasted to Bosch that he would never be convicted of murdering the young actress he had dated, and who seems to have the reach to tamper with witnesses. Bosch’s testimony is critical to Storey’s conviction, and any taint to the detective’s reputation would irreparably damage his testimony, and thus the outcome of the trial. So when a leak about Bosch being a key suspect in McCaleb’s case reaches the detective’s ears, he pays a visit to McCaleb to argue his innocence. But Bosch has a dark side to him which McCaleb knows and distrusts, and the two have a way to go before McCaleb is willing to take up for him.
Connelly, as usual, gives us more than enough drama to make for several novels, and then wraps it all up into a convoluted plot filled with complex characters, real-life crises, and courtroom spectacle. And he tops it off with an ending that, low key as it is, sort of takes your breath away. Connelly at his best.