Michael Connelly does something unusual in Trunk Music: He makes Harry Bosch fallible in his work as well as in his private life. The result is that Harry has setbacks that go beyond his usual run-ins with LAPD authority. The result is entertaining and convoluted, providing novelty to this excellent series.
This isn't my favorite in the series by a long shot. The noir aspects just aren't as dark as in Connelly's best efforts.
Gallows humor saves the book, beginning with finding a corpse in a car trunk where the crime scene can be seen from the audience at the Hollywood Bowl. Even Harry knows that he's got to avoid messing up the concert. The show must go on!
The Las Vegas parts of the story open up many new threads for future tales, including a meeting in this book with an old friend from The Black Echo.
on July 20, 1999
I've read the first five Harry Bosch novels, and have come to regard them as one continuous narrative in the eventful life of an old friend. Trunk Music was one of the better installments, and displays Connelly's typical mastery of plot development and authentic characterization. I've never found anyone in this genre whose dialogue rings truer, reminding me of a print version of a Steven Bochco show. Trunk Music also re-energizes the formula by introducing some great new characters in fellow cops Kizmin Rider and Grace Billets, and bringing back old flame Eleanor Wish.
Connelly weaves ambitiously intricate mysteries, always with several possible outcomes suggested. At times he seems to overreach, and the ending here feels a little rushed and unsatisfying. It's not that he leaves loose ends; everything is explained in his chosen scenario, it just seems that something with greater ironic power might have been available in this case. However, as I began this review, the more of these I read, the less I require them to be stand-alone masterpieces, and the more I simply relish inhabiting Bosch's world for a while.
on December 29, 2003
TRUNK MUSIC finds Harry investigating an apparent mafia hit on a small-time movie producer. The victim has been found in the truck of his car with two bullets in his head. He was shot from behind at very close range. Of course, Connelly provides plenty of twists before you get to the end. Some will surprise you even if some don't. But between Harry's personal travails and the difficulties of unraveling the case, there is plenty to keep the pages turning. Besides a convoluted plot, Connelly also provides characters of depth and lots of rough edges.
This is Connelly's fifth Harry Bosch story and it's the fifth one I've read. I've thoroughly enjoyed each one and I recommend them to anyone who likes gritty police procedurals. It's not really my favorite genre, but these are exceptional. Harry has developed steadily throughout the series, however, and there are elements that crop up from previous books, so if you haven't read any Harry Bosch stories before, I advise going back and starting from the first. I highly recommend TRUNK MUSIC, along with each of its four predecessors.
on July 7, 2002
This is quite good...but at times i had to work hard to convince myself that parts of it weren't a bit dull.
The main problem lies in the fact that whatever happened, the reader isn't made to care. The victim is never really fleshed out, and neither are some of the suspects. The writing is great, and the dual cities of LA and Las Vegas are written about well, with a well evoked atmosphere in each case. (As is the norm for Connelly.)
Harry Bosch is on fine form once again. In fact, it is him that lifts this book's from a three to a four star rating. When his love interest is introduced about a quarter of the way through, the pace (and interest) picks up a little. However, she is not featured enough, and soon interest drains away once more. The next time it gets interesting is only when there is a plot twist or two. From then on, this book does get better. There are a couple of first class twists along the way that are really unexpected and they freshen up the material.
However, the final solution is disocovered about 75 pages from the end, and thenceforth there is almost nothing extra to add to the plot. there is no final surprise, no last twist, no last minute realisations. There is a small surprise, i suppose, but it does not really carry much weight, and the 50 or so pages we travelled to reach it dont seem all that worth it.
All this being said, it is quite an interesting book, and there are some unmissable developments in Bosch's love life, which make this book worth reading.
By no means his best book, but for Bosch fans, it should be read. Casual perusers should read one of the other Bosch books.
on June 21, 2001
I'm not a big fan of the hard-boiled, Southern California cop/P.I. genre. Still, Michael Connelly has the ability to take that setting and produce a compelling series. I really enjoyed the earlier Bosch books. This book is good but I got the sense that Connelly is getting a little bit bored with Bosch.
Much of this book seems to be a rehash of elements of earlier books. It's back to Vegas - again. Harry's hauled into IAD - again. Harry's smoking obsessively - again. With a movie producer as the victim, I had the sense that Connelly was playing the Hollywood movie card that he'd held in reserve for a day when his writer's block prevented more orginal and compelling plots. On the positive side, I really like the additions to Harry's police comrades. It's nice that he finally has a supervisor with a brain. And I'm optimistic about Eleanor - lone wolf Bosch was due for a change.
Bottom-line: Even a weak link in this series is better than the best that many other authors produce. Still, not the best book for a first time reader of Connelly to consider. It's worth going back to the Black Echo and reading this series in order.
on October 3, 2002
If I were Harry Bosch, I think I'd get a job as a bouncer or something...the poor guy, he's at it again and he's up against more internal affairs investigations. There's one time in here in which his new chief, Grace Bittell, looks at him and says, "Harry, why don't you grow up and stop these pissing games?". Bravo, Grace.
Now, don't get me wrong. Harry's still a great cop and he has a nose for finding out the details in snaring his criminals. Although in this one, he and his cohorts Kimz Rider and Jerry Edgar, blow it big time. But the new chief is a more intricate and understanding one than the previous Harvey Pounds.
Anyway, in this multi-focused book, Bosch is up against the murderer of a small-time Hollywood producer who is killed in the trunk of his Rolls Royce and it looks like a mob hit. Of course, Harry is not so sure about it, so off her goes to Las Vegas to do more research. He stumbles upon a likely suspect in Luke Goshen, who is more than what he appears to be. Lo and behold, Harry also stumbles upon his former love, Eleanor Wish, who has spent five years in prison for her part in a nasty crime committed in an earlier work. So add this to Harry's problem and you've got quite a bit of trouble brewing.
Connelly makes this work for him most of the time, although I tend to agree that the ending comes a little quicker than usual and even though we have an exciting climax in a little shopping mall, there's even one more little twist that Connelly tags on that's not really that exciting. However, there is a surprise for Harry at the end as far as his love life goes.
All in all, you really can't go wrong with Harry Bosch or Connelly. He's a great writer and you can't help but fall in with Bosch and his bullheadedness...he gets the job done!!
on May 21, 2001
Trunk Music is Michael Connelly's best mystery. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading the book. I really didn't want to put it down, but it was 15 minutes until I had to be at work.
I even read on it all day and finished when I came home. It was a simply delightful and suspenseful book.
The characters were selected for this story with the upmost care, and I was amazed at the believablility of the characters involved in the book. I was pleased that the author provided detail of not only the characters, but also the action, so that, like other mystery books out there, you end up getting confused because of not enough detail or too much. Not so in this book; everything was just right.
I liked the fact that the theme was believable, too. Many times I have read a mystery, only to think that it wasn't believable; it would have never happened. Not so with this book!! You will read things that come out of today's headlines. I won't say any more, because if you read the rest of the reviews, it would blow some good things for you, so just trust me!
Get this book; I know you won't be disappointed.
on January 5, 2004
After a leave of absence, LAPD detective Harry Bosch comes forward via request to investigate the circle of circumstances involving the death of Anthony Aliso, whose body is found in the trunk of the victim's car, parked on Mulholland Drive. Author Connelly immediately catches the reader's attention with depth, each "clue" leads to another piece of solving this thriller - such clues as the mysterious substance found around the victim's eyes. Each time Bosch thinks he has the biggest lead to the murder of Aliso, another corner is turned, leading to more information that detours Bosch to trail the killer(s).
Is Aliso's wife involved in any way? Are the individuals who Bosch meets in Las Vegas gambling casinos involved? In the process of investigation, Bosch is taken back in time to a former acquaintance, more-than-friend Eleanor Wish. Bosch encounters "enemies" within the LAPD and FBI who "hold" information over him, attempting to deter and dismiss Bosch from the case. With supportive efforts of the investigation team including head of department Billets, and department members Kiz Rider and Edgar, Bosch continues his travails to catch a killer.
Connelly spins this mystery like a smooth operating gambling wheel -- each piece of information, each character, each action, fit into a slot making for a pleasurable, entertaining, suspenseful, intricate and clever mystery.
on May 7, 1998
Very well plotted. Twists and turns to marvel at. Detective Harry Bosch is terrific. Boy, what a tough guy. You can't believe he is saying or doing THAT! Yet it makes sense, and, of course, he's one of the good guys to cheer for. Atmospherics also good. Subtleties of character interactions, conversations, etc., are exceptional. However, I'm personally not sure I will read another in the series, which would be my third. Underneath all of the toughness and seeming realism is political correctness to the nth degree, which almost becomes humorous. Except for the heroic main character (and by implication the author) and his love interest, you can almost predict the nobility and reasonableness of the characters by what demographic group they fall into. Guess who the biggest villain turns out to be? Don't worry, I won't tell, and you will probably never guess. Michael Connelly is a very good writer --but he should forget about trying so hard to advance social progress through hard-boiled detective fiction and just concentrate on telling his wonderful Bosch stories.
on January 26, 2007
"Trunk Music" was Michael Connelly's sixth book, his fifth to feature Harry Bosch and was first published in 1997. Although Harry remains a cigarette-smoking, beer-swilling, coffee-drinking jazz-fan, his life has seen a few changes since "The Last Coyote". It's been about eight months since Harry returned to the Hollywood Division from involuntary stress leave, but roughly eighteen since he 'officially' investigated a homicide case. Bosch has spent the previous eight months working the burglary table - officially, this was to ease him back into detective work. In reality, however, it was a slap on the wrist for his 'unofficial' investigation outlined in "The Last Coyote" - while he was his involuntary stress leave. He's also spending much of his free time redecorating his house - condemned after an earthquake, it's been demolished and now rebuilt.
The Hollywood Division is now under the command of a new Lieutenant, Grace Billets. In turn, she has decided that all homicides should be investigated by three detectives. Harry is the team leader of Squad One : his partners are Jerry Edgar, who he'd worked with previously, and Kizmin Rider. Rider transferred in around the same time as Billets, both from the LAPD's Pacific Division. "Trunk Music" covers Harry's first case back at the homicide table under these new arrangements. A body has been found in the trunk of a Rolls Royce along Hollywood Drive, overlooking the Hollywood Bowl. Certain factors seem to indicate the victim - Tony Aliso - was killed by the Mob. As such, the case should be turned over to the Organized Crime Intelligence Unit. However, when notified, OCID take a pass - although Harry's happy he hasn't lost his case, he still finds that decision a little strange. To complicate matters, it later appears the officer Harry contacted - a man called Carbone - is taking a 'casual' interest in the case. Harry believes there's more to this than meets the eye, but knows he'll have to be careful. While OCID are supposed to concentrate on organized crime, it is widely believed they hold thick files on many - including the Police Chief and the Mayor. In other words, they're not afraid to play dirty to get what they want.
Aliso, although a small-time player in the movie business, still made a healthy living from it. Married to one of his former actresses, he took regular trips to Vegas. The length of these trips would vary, depending on his luck at the poker tables - however, his wife suspected he did more in Vegas than just gamble. He was returning from one of these trips when he was apparently intercepted and killed. Realising the killer may have followed Aliso from Vegas, Harry takes a trip there to try and retrace his steps. The trip, however, throws up one or two surprises - and it wouldn't be a Harry Bosch novel if he didn't find himself in serious trouble.
Connelly has written another excellent book, and has also introduced two very likeable characters - Billets and Rider. Billets, unlike Harry's previous boss, seems to care about clearing cases - rather than fiddling statistics to make the department look good. Rider, meanwhile, is considered an excellent detective and is tipped to go right to the top. It would probably be a slight advantage to have read at least a couple of the previous Bosch novels- for example, there are certain slight references to some of the events from "The Black Echo" and "The Last Coyote". While it's not entirely necessary, I would recommend reading them first - they are both excellent books, and knowing the "full story" will add to the enjoyment of this instalment.