Reviewed by Phyllis Seesengood
In Michael Connelly’s latest novel, “The Drop,” we observe aging Detective Harry Bosch working cold cases for the Open-Unsolved Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department. Some long-forgotten cases date back 50 years, long before the availability of DNA and other high-tech measures to aid in solving crimes.
Bosch has been hoping for an extension in the LAPD’s mandatory retirement plan. He needs the income since he is the single parent to his 15-year-old daughter Maddie. Bosch receives disappointing news that his Deferred Retirement Option Plan (D.R.O.P) only gives him another 39 months rather than the full five years of eligibility.
Bosch’s latest assignment with the Open-Unsolved Unit is the 1989 rape and brutal murder of a young woman, Lily Price. DNA testing in this case provides a match. However, the match points to a twenty-nine-year-old convicted rapist, Clayton Pell, who would have only been eight years old when the 1989 crime occurred. Could the DNA evidence be tainted? That could mean that hundreds of other cold cases might be in trouble and would be a huge embarrassment to the crime lab. Moreover, Bosch and his partner, David Chu, find themselves in a predicament—do they really want to clear a convicted sex offender? But Bosch’s code “either everybody counts, or nobody does” provides their incentive. They must convince Clayton Pell to help them discover the real perpetrator. The investigation becomes complicated but also provides a little romance for Bosch.
Bosch has barely started the cold-case investigation when he suddenly finds himself in charge of another case, this one quite recent. The case involves the apparent suicide of George Irving, son of Councilman Irvin Irving. The councilman requests that Bosch lead the investigation into his son’s death. Bosch is puzzled by the request, since former deputy chief of police, Councilman Irving, is an old enemy who was responsible for forcing his resignation from the police department several years ago.
Reluctantly Bosch begins work on the new case. The councilman’s son, George Irving, jumped, fell, or was he “dropped” from a balcony of the hotel Chateau Marmont? Irv Irving is confident that his son didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and insists that Bosch prove it.
Bosch and Chu work both cases simultaneously even though the cases are not connected. Bosch makes a disturbing discovery in the cold case—that a serial killer has been operating undetected in the city for decades. Bosch finds himself caught up in the dirty police politics of both crimes.
The Irving case seems simple enough until Bosch comes across some secrets and lies realizes he can’t trust anyone except his daughter Maddie, who has decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a cop. Bosch has taught his daughter how to shoot a gun, how to “read” people and to look for details. She isn’t hesitant to point out to him things he misses in his cases.
Connelly’s seventeenth Bosch novel has two very intricate mysteries that have compelling plots. Complicated characters populate this crime novel. We see a softer side of Bosch as he interacts with his daughter, but at his core, Bosch is still the hard-boiled detective we have experienced in previous novels. This police procedural leaves us with a little uncertainty about Bosch’s future, but I’m positive that in his future he has more cases to solve.
This novel is available at the Joplin Public Library in print, compact disc audiobook and downloadable formats.