Friday, March 26, 2010
Jim is on vacation in Massachusetts. His airport reading this week has included Michael Connelly's recent bestseller The Scarecrow. The protagonist of this thriller is Jack McEvoy, a journalist for the fading LA Times who has just been laid off. (McEvoy, who was the central character of a previous Connelly novel, The Poet, is one of a gallery of intersecting characters in his body of work, principally detective Harry Bosch, whose settings are typically greater Los Angeles.) Connelly uses The Scarecrow to limn the decline of traditional newspaper journalism while depicting a villain who uses his perch running an Internet server farm in Arizona to stalk his murder victims as well as track anyone who gets near discovering his misdeeds. Connelly's novels have tremendous narrative energy, as well as vividly sketched characters -- many of them edgy, intelligent, but restless souls, male and female, who are somehow never quite at ease with their ambitions or the social milieu in which they find themselves. He's in a very select company that includes Sue Grafton and Elmore Leonard as popular fiction writers who consistently craft entertaining as well as aesthetically pleasing books. I liked this one, but my favorite Connelly novel remains The Lincoln Lawyer, featuring the dodgy defense lawyer Mickey Haller. (Haller and Harry Bosch, who appeared together in the recent bestseller The Brass Verdict, will team up again in Connelly's forthcoming novel The Reversal.) Any of these or other Connelly novels are worth a look.