Michael Connelly's THE SCARECROW is Plenty Scary

Michael Connelly has a new book, The Scarecrow, coming out May 26 and needs no help from me to sell planeloads of copies. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably already pre-ordered a copy from Amazon. But wouldn’t you like to hear anyway that it’s a very enjoyable read and that it’s good to have The Poet’s Jack McEvoy back in the starring role?

Right off the bat, McEvoy gets laid off from the L.A. Times due to corporate downsizing and he’s looking for a big story to make the powers that be regret their decision. He receives a call from an irate woman who claims to be the mother of a kid who’s been arrested for murder. LAPD claims the kid confessed but the woman says the teen’s innocent. Skeptical, McEvoy investigates anyway and finds there was no confession. Furthermore, the M.O. used in the murder is strikingly similar to an out-of-state killing the kid couldn’t have committed.

A long way from the career high which came after his encounter with the Poet, McEvoy latches on to the trail of this creepy new killer, who quickly turns his attention on the reporter and even hits McEvoy where he lives. With the help of his former lover, FBI Agent Rachel Walling, McEvoy might just get that big story he’s after but may have to pay for it with his life.

I’m a devoted fan of Harry Bosch but I really like McEvoy, too. The Poet rocked my socks and McEvoy is a more romantic hero than Bosch. He seems to fit better with Walling and his methods of journalistic investigation are more familiar to me than Bosch’s police procedures. McEvoy has popped up in Connelly’s other books (i.e. The Brass Verdict) but those were inconsequential appearances. Having him as the lead once again is a treat which shouldn’t be missed by Connelly fans.

Much of my enjoyment of this book also stemmed from it being a paean to the daily grind of print journalism, a dying art as newspapers are shutting down across the country. The descriptions of the newspaper lingo and processes are almost romantic and bittersweet, making me nostalgic for an institution I know is changing in an irreversible way. The movie State of Play, which I saw this weekend, also pays tribute to this same issue (click here for my review and comparison with the BBC version) and it’s sad news all around.

On that note, I’m gonna stop writing and go read my paper.

Nerd verdict: This Scarecrow is sturdy



  • Reply
    Lizabeth Ann
    April 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I could read Michael Connelly’s books 24/7 and lead a rich and full life! A devoted Harry Bosch fan, myself, I’m crazy about Jack McEvoy and happy as can be to see him back.

    Having grown up with The Courier Journal, The Lexington Leader and The Lexington Herald – the whole history of the newspaper business feels a part of me. These changes break my heart. I just love having that paper in my hands.

    I’m looking forward, bigtime, to reading THE SCARECROW – again and again and again!!!!! Thank you, PCN!

    • Reply
      April 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

      Hi Lizabeth Ann,

      Thank you for your comments. I hate that someday I might open my front door and find no L.A. Times there because it doesn’t exist anymore in physical form. Besides my dad being a longtime newspaper man and my own journalism experience, many of my male relatives had a paper route when they were teens. It taught them a certain work ethic and how to wake up early in the morning without complaining. The newspaper business has been a huge part of our lives and I’m sad to see it collapsing.

      • Reply
        April 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm

        I admit it is a bit scary. I wish we could find a better way not to kill all those trees and still be able to have our newspapers. CNN’s Headline News just doesn’t cut it for me. I still refuse to give up my books! That’s where I draw the line.

        • Reply
          April 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm

          Big Fan of Connelly as well, but I am fine with my Kindle. Try it, it won’t kill your or your childrens future on this planet.

  • Reply
    Lizabeth Ann
    April 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I’m surely willing to try it, Reader #9, and certainly want our children’s future on this planet to be long, happy, safe, healthy, responsible, all that. I think, though, I will continue to want an actual book in hand when it comes to MC’s books. I do use the computer to read newspapers everyday, though. It’s a start. Wonder if prices’ll come down on those Kindles?

  • Reply
    May 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Still in mid-Bosch series. Would you recommend reading The Poet, first, before getting into this one? Thanks, PCN

    • Reply
      May 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

      I would recommend reading The Poet first, le0pard13, but not because I’m compulsive about reading stuff in order. McEvoy’s previous glory with The Poet case and his past with Agent Walling are hinted at often in Scarecrow so you’d get a better understanding of that history and how much McEvoy’s luck has changed if you read Poet first. Plus, as good as Scarecrow is, I’d say Poet is even better.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 4:03 am

    I’m a huge MC fan. And the Poet is one of my favourites so far (along with cit of bones). I’d say its like the 90’s equivalent of ‘The analyst’. I doubt this sequel is better than The Poet, but I hope it is just as good. Cant wait to read it!

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