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City of Bones
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The Harry Bosch series has a dual purpose: entertain us with crime and detection stories while portraying the depravity of our culture. In City of Bones, Michael Connelly expresses the kind of world-weary despair that causes many to lose faith in God . . . and humanity.

As the story opens, it's the end of the year . . . a sad time for depressed people and two taxpayers take the quick way out. A call to Laurel Canyon reveals a bone that proves to be human, which also leads to a horrifying case of abuse. In searching for the rest of the skeleton, Harry is repulsed by the coroner's fixation on fame and glitter. He is refreshed to meet a mid-thirties rookie cop, Julia Brasher, who likes his style.

The investigation is quickly compromised by someone wanting to curry favor with a television journalist, with dreadful consequences. Harry is, as usual, annoying the downtown people who care more about their image than justice. More mistakes occur, and more harm is done. Clearly, the lesson is that it's dangerous to turn the police loose on crime.

If I could re-title the book, I would call it "People are never what they seem." You'll get more than your share of surprises in the book which is best appreciated as a deep character study.

For those who like action, linear progress, and a taut plot, City of Bones will be frustrating: This book is more like the sort of "why do I bother?" soliloquy that most of us conduct in our heads from time to time.

The investigating mistakes that Harry makes can be seen clearly if you read carefully: He's clearly not in a lucid state of mind. Exploring the sources and consequences of that displaced perception is the core of this novel.

The noir parts of the story are well wrought. I especially liked the theme of peoples' bones being picked clean by the denizens of Hollywood. The reference to piranhas was quite effective.
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on January 25, 2007
"City of Bones" is Michael Connelly's thirteenth book, his eighth to feature Harry Bosch and was first published in 2002. Orphaned at the age of twelve when his mother was murdered, Bosch spent his teenage years in and out of orphanages. He enlisted in the army and served in Viet-Nam, before returning home to Los Angeles and joining the police force. Once a member of the LAPD's elite RHD (Robbery-Homicide Division), he was demoted in the Hollywood Division following an Internal Affairs investigation. Bosch has occasionally been seen by some as a maverick, but increasingly by others as a 'man with a mission' and an excellent homicide investigator. Harry is one of the senior detectives at Hollywood's homicide table, and is Squad One's team leader. Although he continues to work with Jerry Edgar, the team's third member - Kiz Rider - has yet to be replaced following her promotion to RHD.

"City of Bones" provides both a difficult case and a rough ride for Harry. A retired doctor makes a call to the department, saying that his dog had returned from a run in the Hollywood Hills carrying a human bone. A number of calls like this are made every year, which normally turn out to be bogus: however, this time, there is no mistake. Dr. Guyot, the caller, has correctly identified it as a child's humerus and has also identified a healed fracture on the bone. Using the dog to discover where the humerus had been buried, a subsequent, more detailed search recovers about sixty per-cent of the skeleton. This includes the skull, where the fatal blow was apparently struck. The remains are of a boy, possibly as young as ten, and show evidence of several years worth of chronic abuse. The best initial guess for the time of death, meanwhile, is between the mid-seventies and the mid-eighties - making the investigation a 'cold case', the hardest cases to close. The first step, obviously, is to identify the victim - a process that included looking at the list of missing persons who match the criteria for age and the time of disappearance. As harsh as it sounds, the injuries that made the boy's life so difficult may provide the key identifying him - and, possibly, the killer.

When Bosch first arrives at Dr. Guyot's house, a couple of uniformed cops are already there. The junior partner, Julia Brasher, is a rookie (or 'boot') who Bosch is immediately attracted to. Given that Bosch is at supervisor level, it's against regulations to allow anything other than a professional relationship between the pair. However, given a pretty face, who also seems rather taken with him, and a chance to bend the rules, there's generally only one thing Harry Bosch is capable of doing...and when Bosch bends the rules, it generally means trouble.

After "A Darkness More Than Night", when the action was divided between Harry and Terry McCaleb, this is a return to a 'straightforward' Bosch book - and is much better for having only one 'main' character. You won't feel too left out if you've never read any of the other Bosch books before. However, it's probably better if you've read at least a couple of them : there's a few passing references to some of the events of his previous adventures - the story behind his scar on his shoulder and his relationship with Teresa Corazon, for example. Recommended.
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on February 16, 2004
Michael Connelly has been doing these Harry Bosch novels for some years now. Bosch is the stereotypical detective, and if anything that's always been my one main objection to him: he's a bit too much of a stereotype, right down to the jazz on the stereo, the chain-smoking (though he did finally quit), the casual attitude towards superiors, and the dogged determination to clear every one of his cases.
The current book follows Bosch and his partner, Jerry Edgar, as they look into what they at first imagine is a false alarm. A man walking his dog in the Hollywood Hills has let the dog run wild, and the pooch returned with a bone in his mouth, which the man thinks is human. This happens regularly, and the bone is usually from an animal, but this time the dog's owner happens to be a retired doctor, and he knows what he's talking about: it's human. Soon Harry and Jerry are working a twenty-year-old homicide, apparently a runaway who was killed, for what reason they don't know. They can't even make an identification. Then it turns out there's a convicted child molester on the street, and things begin to go sideways and get ugly at the same time.
Connelly has this sort of thing downpat now. The mystery's not the most surprising one he's done, and the plot is somewhat meandering, but the characterization of Bosch is well-done, and the other characters are interesting too. There are several strange twists in the plot, things that you weren't expecting, all of which aren't directly connected to the mystery of who killed the kid. The ending, which I won't reveal (though I guessed what was coming), is something of a mystery too, though the preview of his next book in the back told me where he was going to take things.
Anyway, I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it, though of course anyone reading something like this should first read some of the earlier books, so that they get some background on the characters in the story.
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on February 16, 2004
Michael Connelly has been doing these Harry Bosch novels for some years now. Bosch is the stereotypical detective, and if anything that's always been my one main objection to him: he's a bit too much of a stereotype, right down to the jazz on the stereo, the chain-smoking (though he did finally quit), the casual attitude towards superiors, and the dogged determination to clear every one of his cases.
The current book follows Bosch and his partner, Jerry Edgar, as they look into what they at first imagine is a false alarm. A man walking his dog in the Hollywood Hills has let the dog run wild, and the pooch returned with a bone in his mouth, which the man thinks is human. This happens regularly, and the bone is usually from an animal, but this time the dog's owner happens to be a retired doctor, and he knows what he's talking about: it's human. Soon Harry and Jerry are working a twenty-year-old homicide, apparently a runaway who was killed, for what reason they don't know. They can't even make an identification. Then it turns out there's a convicted child molester on the street, and things begin to go sideways and get ugly at the same time.
Connelly has this sort of thing downpat now. The mystery's not the most surprising one he's done, and the plot is somewhat meandering, but the characterization of Bosch is well-done, and the other characters are interesting too. There are several strange twists in the plot, things that you weren't expecting, all of which aren't directly connected to the mystery of who killed the kid. The ending, which I won't reveal (though I guessed what was coming), is something of a mystery too, though the preview of his next book in the back told me where he was going to take things.
Anyway, I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it, though of course anyone reading something like this should first read some of the earlier books, so that they get some background on the characters in the story.
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on May 18, 2003
A woman's bones were found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles in 1914. It was determined that they were nine thousand years old, and anthropologists concluded that she was murdered.
I heard that it was this event, and an anthropological book about child abuse, that inspired Michael Connelly's latest murder mystery, City of Bones.
LAPD detective Harry Bosch is left with only the bones found in the Hollywood Hills to solve the "cold," 20-year-old case that will soon be closed regardless of if the killer is put to justice. It isn't until the bones are studied that he finds a personal connection that, according to Connelly, "...taps into Harry's sense of rage." Until then though, the murder seems like any other case, and the story seems like any other mystery.
Bosch struggles throughout the novel with his need and capability to find justice and make a difference in an evil world. Julia Brasher, a thirtyish rookie, helps Bosch with logical and true encouragements such as "...there will always be the need for heroes," but these views prove detrimental to Brasher and in turn to Bosch.
With many suspects and no hard evidence, Bosch is forced to go with his gut feeling numerous times, leading the case into many exciting and suspenseful twists and turns. But, nothing can compare to the shocking ending, leaving long time Bosch followers to wonder if this is the end, or a new beginning.
*I also realize that the next book is out, but i'm a little behind!
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on May 4, 2003
Connelly seems to be tying up loose ends in this novel ( the paperback teaser for his next shows why)with its sense of career completion. Harry makes a point of saying he is past the pension gateway, and the time span of the case - twenty year old bones- gives us a sense of time having passed. It's been a long time since Harry returned from Vietnam, which also comes up in the novel. Then too there is the finality of statements made by a number of the characters - the words one cannot take back- and a new road may be beckoning.
The plot turns on the tale the bones tell and the urban sprawl of Southern California which transforms snake infested canyons into subdevelopments and former wilderness into neighborhood back lots. As the city comes to find the bones, so this novel rambles out of the city in a number of directions, playing upon the theme of scattering of the past and the detectives' task of reassembling it. The double turn of the ending is nicely done. (I'm not really giving it away, when the case seems resolved and you are only half way through the novels sizeable heft you know complications are coming). This is a good read for any detective novel fan and well worth the money.
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on December 29, 2002
Never read Connelly before so I wasn't sure what to expect, although I am a big fan of his buddy George Pelecanos. This eighth book in the LA-set Harry Bosch series centers on the discovery of an old child's skeleton. It reads kind of like a good TV movie (although much darker than anything on TV), taking the reader through the forensics that eventually lead to the child's identification, and the long plodding investigation to uncover the truth. As a procedural it's quite well done, with plenty of detail and nuance throughout. Particularly well-handled are the numerous interviews Bosch conducts with witnesses and suspects throughout the book. Quite a bit of internal police politics come into play as well, giving the book a certain "insider" element. Certain elements are a bit cliché, from Harry's drive/obsession with the case, to the pressure from his superiors, and even a love interest. However, the book manages to stay away from being run-of-the-mill by showing the police making plenty of mistakes, and portraying all kinds of shades of gray in behavior. On the whole, it's a solid read, but not one that'll have me scurrying to read the rest of the series.
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on October 22, 2002
It didn't take all that long for Michael Connelly to become one of today's top mystery authors. And it's not hard to see why. His books are always suspenseful, filled with great dialogue and believable characters. His stories are intriguing and always intricate. And, most of the time, his plots are unpredictable.
Although City Of Bones isn't Connelly's best, it still shows how amazing the author truly is. Here, we find Bosch, one of the characters Connelly established in his earlier works. He is now working as a detective in Hollywood. On New Year's eve, he is told to investigate bones that have been uncovered by a dog. On closer examination, the bones are shown to be human and belonging to a twelve year old boy who would have died over twenty years ago.
The quest to find the boy's identity and his killer follows. And what a chase it is! The story is full of subplots that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
I love Connelly's style. His books are gritty and straight to the point. He is the noir author par excellence. As Bosch investigates the crime and uncovers many of the answers that have been laying dormant for over twenty years, he will meet many great characters, such as a young female officer in whom he will find romance, or the victim's sister and father, who's past is filled with dark secrets that are just waiting to resurface. All of Connelly's characters have ghosts in their closets, which only adds to the dark tones of his stories.
All in all, City Of Bones is yet another great work of fiction by today's best mysetery author. When you start one of Connelly's books, you won't want to let go of it until the it's done. City of Bones is no exception.
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on September 18, 2002
"City of Bones" was a happy reunion for me. I met again the Michael Connelly to whom I was introduced in "Black Echo" and "Concrete Blonde" and "Black Ice" that electrified me with his broody LA, sharp characterizations and twisting suspense. No one in "City of Bones" is 100 percent nice or straight arrow, though all are very recognizable. I had my usual problems with Harry, always wanting to tell him to lighten up a bit. By this time, I should be resigned. Harry Bosch is to gloom like Goldie Hawn is to giggles.
Harry walks into a cold case when a dog digs up an old bone in Laurel Canyon that turns out to be human. Harry's superiors are unenthusiastic because the chances of closing a 20-year old case are slim to none. Harry is grimly determined because when more of skeleton is found, it is ascertained the victim was an abused child. Harry first runs afoul of a former girl friend Medical Examiner (suspiciously close to Cornwell's Kay Scapetta) who has risen so far in the world; she cares more about photo ops than the integrity of the case. Along with hard working cops, there are plethoras of politician/cops who are willing to set up and convict the first likely guy that comes up on the radar. As if Harry doesn't have enough troubles, an ill-fated romance with a police rookie streaks across his horizon. He antagonizes his own partner with his lone wolf tactics, and seemingly neglects an obvious suspect for far too long.
The denouement has twist after twist, surprise after surprise leaving us breathless and far behind Harry all the way. Then Harry gets another idea, leaving us hollering, "wait a minute!" but Harry just keeps walking right off the last page.
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on September 2, 2002
I have heard lots of good comments about the Harry Bosch novels and I was not disappointed with this seventh book of the series. Bosch is a hard boiled homocide detective in the Hollywood division of the LAPD who gets a call that a dog has discovered a human bone. The investigation uncovers a 20 year old murder of a 12 year-old boy who was the victim of child abuse. As the case proceeds, Bosch meets and becomes involved with a rookie cop named Julia Brasher, who has an idealistic view of police work.
Some information leaks and false clues initially sidetrack the investigation but slowly the victim is identified and his short and tortured life revealed. Connelly draws his characters with fine strokes and his development of the details of the police procedures which are key to solving cases was really fascinating to me. Understanding the murder book, how warrants were drawn up and served, and details behind the forensic investigation added to my enjoyment of the story.
False directions provide intrigue but I was a little disappointed with the unsatisfying way the murderer was revealed and dealt with.
All in all though, a fast paced (I read it in one 24 hour period), and very enjoyable read.
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