Well this is one of my least favorite Bosch books. We get Bosch just bumbling from the beginning of this book to the end. We have Connelly get rid of two characters we have been following for a number of books now in completely (IMHO) stupid ways, and I don’t know, I think Bosch is just casually racist towards Chinese people. I also didn’t get a sense of Hong Kong at all while reading this book. I felt like Connelly watched “Knock Off” a few times, visited Hong Kong, took a couple of terrible pictures he inserted in this book and called himself done. As someone who has been to Hong Kong and adored it, he completely misses the mark on just how big the city is and how many people are there. I also think the fact that Bosch is there for about 24 hours makes the whole story-line dance towards ridiculous by the time we get to the end and realize what happened with Bosch’s kidnapped daughter.
In “Nine Dragons” we have Bosch investigating the murder of a Chinese store owner that Bosch feels a connection to since he gave Bosch a match to light a cigarette. I am not kidding people. That is something that Bosch repeats to himself and others throughout the story. I maybe wanted to smack Bosch across the face when he says this to the victim’s son. And then we have Bosch acting like how come no one gets what he is talking about and man oh man I broke out some wine since I could see we were dancing towards that kind of story.
When Bosch and his partner (poor Iggie) investigating the murder, Bosch brings in someone from the Asian Gang Unit to lend a hand (David Chu). Bosch though of course acts like an asshole to David and to Iggie so that’s like negative 10 we got for Bosch at this point in the story. When David and Bosch start to dig deeper, it looks like the murder may have links to a local Triad. And when Bosch swoops in to make an arrest, everything gets “F” up when his 13 year old daughter Maddie is kidnapped.
From prior books, readers know that Bosch has a daughter named Maddie with former wife Eleanor Wish. Maddie and Eleanor live in Hong Kong where Eleanor makes a living playing poker (don’t ask). Though Bosch has had relationships with other women, he still sits around thinking about Eleanor and how one day things may work out (considering how she left him and didn’t tell him about his daughter for I think 4 years I think Bosch is out of his mind). We never get to see Bosch and Maddie interact at all with each other until this book so I had a hard time with Maddie in this one. She was being a brat up until she went missing, and when we find out about what went on I definitely didn’t like her one bit. And Bosch questioning Eleanor’s parenting style…look there’s a lot to yell at this character about, but she’s the main parent taking care of Maddie while Bosch is off avenging folks. And him being a jerk about the new man in Eleanor’s life, sigh at this point we are at about minus 1,000 with Bosch.
I ended up feeling really sad about what happens with Iggie and other people in this one. I think Connelly was so focused on moving the action to Hong Kong he didn’t sit and think about how other people got the end of the short stick in this one. Since Bosch treated Iggie terribly in the last book (IMO) I was not feeling him acting as if Iggie was being a baby or less of a cop since he got shot in the last book. I would think Bosch could feel some type of empathy towards Iggie who now has three kids, but nope, he acts like unless Iggie lives and breathes the job he is less of a cop than Bosch.
Connelly of course nails Bosch’s voice. But I have to say, he is way more bumbling in this one. His arrogance as far as I am concerned got people hurt. Going to a foreign country and trying to show your ex wife’s new boyfriend you know better than him was just eye roll inducing. I want to say something about Ugly Americans, but I want this review to be over and am going to skip over it.
The setting of Hong Kong wasn’t used very well at all as I said above. Bosch flies in and manages to wreck havoc in 24 hours. I don’t even get a sense of Hong Kong in this one probably because Bosch was too busy obsessing over Eleanor and being a jerk. And then we have Bosch flying back to LA and somehow setting up his daughter with a therapist to discuss what happens while continuing his case against someone he believes murdered a shop keeper. I got whip lash while reading this book. The flow was off as soon as Bosch gets to Hong Kong and never gets fixed. And the fake out ending making you think that someone was dead and you find out that actually someone else died off screen was BS of the first water. I was mad at the way Bosch showcased this character’s death (not at all) and the character of Bosch not really giving two craps about it that I could see.