Review: The Drop, Michael Connelly

The Drop
The Drop by Michael Connelly

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I haven’t listened to a Harry Bosch tale in a while. The narrator has a distinct way of speaking I’ve come to associate with Harry Bosch. While engrossing enough to listen to during a commute, this story disappointed me on several levels. WARNING: Ahead there be spoilers.

I found Connelly explaining a lot. Things that were obvious he said anyway. A lot of explaining of gestures, for example. The editor in me kept saying ‘you just said that,’ or ‘that’s obvious from what you just said.’ It was distracting, interrupted the pacing, and took away from the narrative. Kind of a lesson what not to do for a writer.

I may have forgotten details regarding Harry Bosch’s character, but he behaved differently than I remember him acting in other stories I’ve read. Namely, he is more aggressive in this story, and well, he’s kind of an ass. He consciously shuts out his partner, David Chu, ordering him about and outright saying he isn’t going to tell him what was going on. Once he tries the “I’m trying to protect you” line, but it comes off as patronizing and he never returns to the idea anyway. Besides, that’s not how partners work. He’s working a political case, but he should show Chu how to deal with the politics. Instead, he took control of the investigation himself, ordering Chu about, even though Chu calls him on it and tells him he doesn’t appreciate being shut out.

You may be saying, that’s what the author intended. An author can get away with this if you justify it with the character’s later behavior. That didn’t happen here.

Chu was out of line talking to the reporter, but when Chu confronts Bosch with how he’s treating him, Bosch refuses to acknowledge it, insisting on holding Chu to a standard he’s not keeping for himself. He treats Chu poorly and has no guilt about it and no desire to forgive Chu. He just writes off Chu as a partner.

Another thing I didn’t understand was his reaction to Hannah. They get romantic after knowing each other a short time, and Hannah tells him about her son, who committed a horrible crime. When Hannah asks how he feels about what she told him, he is at a loss to offer anything but sympathy. When Hannah says she can’t ignore her feelings, that she has to deal with what her son did and that he was in prison — a reasonable statement, in my opinion — Harry suddenly comes to the conclusion he’s made a mistake with her and blows her off. It seems a huge leap that didn’t have an explanation. There was no connection between point A and B. I don’t see how he came to his conclusion just from what she’d said. Maybe it’s a guy thing? Hannah starts talking about feelings, Bosch jumps to “this is a mistake”? There’s something missing there to me. And somehow, Hannah “knows” she “messed up” with him when they next talk. I don’t see how, since he doesn’t give any indication except being a little abrupt in how he ended the last conversation. If she can sense he’s annoyed, I don’t see how she would have figured out why. It seems Connelly was operating with more knowledge than he was sharing with the reader.

By the end of the story, Harry has made a U-turn on his opinion of Chu, presumably because of how he handles their second case. I have to assume that, because he never explains his change of heart, except that he manages to tell Chu he did a good job with the case, and later tells himself he’s going to move on and stop holding a grudge. But how did he get there from the deep insult he’d felt? It didn’t seem plausible.

Chu was also a bit annoying in his reaction to Harry’s behavior. While he tries to stand up for himself and complains to Harry when he shut him out of the case, that’s all he does. Then when Harry finds out about the reporter, Chu insists he’s going to make it up to Harry and practically begs Harry for a second chance. Repeatedly. The guy needs to grow a pair.

The Hannah storyline is left dangling a bit. But at that point, I didn’t much care. With Harry being a general ass, I was less than happy with this story.

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