Having begun life as a 16 part serial for the New York Times, "The Overlook" has a dramatically different flavour than the preceding 12 novels in the continuing, exciting Harry Bosch canon with which Connelly has thrilled his legion of fans. Less grim and foreboding, less atmospheric, less prone to the philosophical meandering that we've come to expect from the angst-ridden backcountry of Bosch's psyche, "The Overlook" is much more of a plot driven novel - a shorter, snappier, purely action oriented police procedural but no less successful and enjoyable for the differences!
Dr Stanley Kent, a medical bio-physicist who had access to radioactive materials used in the treatment of cancers at hospitals throughout LA, has been found murdered - executed, in fact, with two bullets in the back of the head - on a Mulholland Drive overlook. Bosch, assigned to the murder with his new partner, Iggy Ferras, immediately begins to bump heads with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, called in on the case as a result of the potential terrorist involvement with the assassination. The case is mere minutes old and Kent's body has barely begun to cool when Bosch discovers that the crime also involves the theft of a case of potentially deadly radioactive Cesium-137. That the FBI agent assigned to the case is Rachel Walling, Bosch's love interest who we met in Connelly's last novel "Echo Park" complicates matters immensely but certainly doesn't prevent the inevitable inter-organizational war over case jurisdiction.
Bosch, true to the mantra "Everybody counts or nobody counts" which we first heard in "The Last Coyote", focuses on people and is intent on finding Kent's murderers. The FBI, not too surprisingly, treats the murder as incidental and is intent on treating the theft of the Cesium as a threat to national security.
There is no doubt in my mind ... Connelly is brilliant! Even with a purely plot-oriented novel, he has made sure that Bosch loses none of the flavour or depth of character so carefully built up in twelve previous novels. His interaction with Walling is both hot and heated (if you understand the subtle distinction). The jurisdictional squabbling and in-fighting has a definite tinge of realism and, frankly, it is difficult as a reader to sit in judgment in this particular case and take sides. Bosch and Walling, the FBI and the LAPD were all right and wrong at various moments in the novel!
And what can one say about the ending? There is no way that any reader is going to see this fancy twist coming! If you're a Bosch fan, you're gonna love this one! If you haven't read any of Bosch's previous novels, don't start here ... go back and read four or five of the earlier novels (try to pick them up in chronological order - start with "The Black Echo") so you can get that underlying feel for the character first. Then come back and enjoy this one with the rest of us.