Harry Bosch might be facing retirement—DROP stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan—but there’s still a lot of evil for him to bring to justice. The story opens with him being assigned to an Open-Unsolved case that gets a hit when old DNA evidence—a drop of blood—is run through the database. What should be a nice break instead complicates things, since the match is for someone who couldn’t have committed the rape/murder twenty-two years ago, which calls into question the lab’s entire evidence-handling process.
Before Bosch can make much progress, he gets a fresh case involving a jumper at the famed Chateau Marmont. This one is full of “high jingo”—internal politics—since the body belongs to the son of Irvin Irving, the former deputy chief of police and current councilman who hates Bosch and has long tried to derail his career. Did George Irving commit suicide, or did someone with a grudge against Irving père murder him? Bosch juggles both cases, while also working in dates with an attractive psychologist and spending time with his fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, who now lives with him full-time after the events in Nine Dragons. The work leads him to horrific places, revealing things that will change him forever.
That’s one of the reasons I keep reading this series—Bosch changes, for better or worse. Some series authors hit the reset button as soon as one novel ends, with the next one showing no consequences from previous incidents. Connelly paints his detective more realistically. Bosch is dealing with advancing age, the cumulative effects of his years on the job, and being a single dad. This doesn’t mean he’s slathering on Ben-Gay or baking cookies with his kid. He’s just questioning whether he’s lost his edge to be a cop, if he should retire to be a full-time father. But how can he when there are still so many monsters to fight, so much more he must do to make the world a safer place for Maddie? It’s a dilemma that’s perfectly understandable, especially after what he encounters in this novel.
I had worried a teenager might cause unwelcome headaches in Bosch’s life, but Maddie is evolving into a young woman who’s sharp in thinking and shooting. Bosch has taught her how to use and respect guns, develop excellent observational skills, and she wants to follow in her father’s career footsteps. It’s a clever turn because if Harry does retire, it looks like there’s another relentless Bosch waiting in the wings.
Nerd verdict: Bosch not ready to Drop