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The Narrows by Michael Connelly
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The Narrows (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Michael Connelly

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2,894361,997 (3.74)25
Member:tarheel
Title:The Narrows
Authors:Michael Connelly
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2004), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:mystery, thriller, detective, 2000's, hieronymus bosch, serial killer, california

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The Narrows by Michael Connelly (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
this was the first book in the Bosch series where I felt somewhat lost due to reading the books in series order vs. publication order. I hadn't read the Poet and therefore didn't know Backus or Walling. I did know McCaleb though and was sad to see the way his story came to a resolution. The related case was an interesting read and I liked the overlap between Civilian Bosch and the FBI. And Maddie, can't not love Maddie and Eleanor even though I know the end for the latter is near. ( )
  skinglist | Aug 24, 2014 |
Harry Bosch (his actual first name is Hieronymous, like the famous painter) is a former LA homicide detective who sometimes works as a private investigator. The widow of a retired FBI profiler, Terry McCaleb, has asked him to look into her husband's death which was seemingly a failure of his transplanted heart. However, Terry's blood levels of the anti-rejection drugs he took faithfully up until his death are nil. The widow, and Harry, suspect someone murdered him. So Harry starts looking into the cases Terry was working on before his death (Terry kept doing profiling despite being retired). His investigation leads him into the middle of a current serial killer investigation going on in the desert between LA and Las Vegas. The serial killer is a former FBI agent nicknamed The Poet who was thought to have been killed years before. He forwarded information to the FBI to make sure they would find the bodies and involve the agent who was his supposed killer, Rachel Walling. Together, Bosch and Walling hope to finally bring The Poet to justice.

I think some of Connelly's other works have been more suspenseful. Bosch is more laid back (although that is relative) and his relationships with others seem less intense. A few characters were developed for a while and then are dropped. I was never totally consumed with interest in this book but that doesn't mean I could have stopped reading it before the ending. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 2, 2013 |
It's hard to say exactly who the main protagonist of The Narrows actually is. The story intertwines three of the protagonists from Connelly's previous works: the inimitable, unstoppable Harry Bosch of some 10 previous books, the cold, analytical Rachel Walling of The Poet, and in the background, overshadowing all of the thoughts of the other two, is the insight and spirit of Terry McCaleb from Blood Work. Rachel Walling is called out of her FBI purgatory of the Dakotas because her ex-mentor/ex-boss and current serial killer dubbed "The Poet" is on the loose again and he's pulling the FBI's strings to force her into the case. Bosch, far away in LA, is called to investigate the suspicious death of Terry McCaleb. As he follows the clues that McCaleb left for him and as Rachel tries to piece together the hints left by her old mentor, their paths cross and they join forces to hunt down The Poet.

I've always felt that Bosch was much more suited for PI work than police work, so it's a pleasure to see him in this role. I like Bosch, even though I find significant flaws in his character, I really appreciate that Connelly also sees the same flaws. My issue is that although Bosch himself recognizes these flaws, he never, ever learns from his mistakes. His tendency for cowboy justice repeatedly endangers others and often gets them killed, yet he never changes. However, as a PI, his tendency to bend the rules and flaunt authority seems more fitting. PI work also seems to have loosened him up; we get some incredibly entertaining moments when he thumbs his nose at authority, like drawing a smiley face in the dust on the top of his car so it can be seen by the FBI helicopter above. One of the touching complexities this story adds to Bosch's character is his struggles to be a good father to his newly found daughter. Of course, since this is a Bosch story, we get a "girl of the week," (which, although different in each book, is treated in the narration as The One. Ugh.) and I'll leave you to guess who that is. Of course, in this story, Bosch isn't the only protagonist; his first-person narration is interspersed with third-person narration from Rachel Walling's perspective. I don't like Rachel; somehow she seems cold and impersonal to me. I also don't understand her; after screwing up by sleeping with a person tangentially related to the case in her last story, her next logical step in this book is to hover for spoiler. Like Bosch, she has become cynical about authority and the trappings of authority, but her emotions are complexified by her desire to regain her previous role.

As in The Poet, we also get narrative snippets from the perspective of the killer. They say it's good not to get too close to your heroes, and I guess the same thing is true of your villains.
When I read The Poet I found the killer to be the absolute most terrifying character that Connelly created (except, perhaps, Bosch himself, but that's a another story for another time). The Poet was a person who reveled in control. He manipulated every situation he was in and controlled every action of his opponents effortlessly. The ultimate symbol of this was his use of hypnotism to force people at a much deeper level than simple physical force to do his will. He humiliated his victims and asserted his own supremacy in his every action: the rape, they hypnotism, the notes they were forced to write, everything. The Poet is a killer who kills for power, control, and a sense of status, and he's scary because he is so very good at manipulating people.

The Poet in this story...just isn't. Rather than using the manipulation and psychological control that made him so scary in his first story, he's much more of a thug. A clever thug, yes, but still a thug who asserts power via brutality, threats, and violence. To me at least, that is far less scary than a man who can suborn the body's will from his unwilling victims. We've seen him defeated before. His return simply feels anticlimactic, like a performer taking another bow after an unenthused call for an encore. I thought it was interesting he didn't go after Jack and that he felt no need for revenge upon him. Yes, I know the real reason is that Connelly felt that Jack got too close to home and didn't want to write about him anymore. But one can also make a case psychologically; in The Poet, he has Jack completely under his control and power. The humiliation, the assertion of superiority, has already been performed. The only thing that saves Jack is Rachel, and maybe that's what's so haunting about The Poet: the killer won, made his point, "got" Jack even if he didn't finish the job.

Overall, the story felt light to me; it didn't seem to touch on some of the powerful themes that some of Connelly's works such as The Concrete Blonde and Angel's Flight so eloquently struggled with, or the deep personal emotions that its narrator brought to The Poet. It also lacked the element of mystery, since the killer's identity is, for the most part, known from the outset. For all that, it is an enjoyable read. I adored the sequences of Bosch with his daughter, and this book provides some reconciliation between Bosch and the indomitable Kiz Rider, a favorite character of mine. Above all, it was fun to see Rachel and Bosch interact and lock horns. ( )
  page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
**FBI agent Rachel Walling finally gets the call she's dreaded for years, the one that tells her the Poet has surfaced. She has never forgotten the serial killer who wove lines of poetry in his hideous crimes—and apparently he has not forgotten her.
Former LAPD detective Harry Bosch gets a call, too—from the widow of an old friend. Her husband's death seems natural, but his ties to the hunt for the Poet make Bosch dig deep. Arriving at a derelict spot in the California desert where the feds are unearthing bodies, Bosch joins forces with Rachel. Now the two are at odds with the FBI...and squarely in the path of the Poet, who will lead them on a wicked ride out of the heat, through the narrows of evil, and into a darkness all his own...**
  Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
Another great Connelly book. Interesting build at the beginning, slow at times in the middle, but very exciting towards the end. The Poet strikes again, but Rachel and Bosch respond accordingly. Full of mystery, suspense, and adventure. If you like the Bosch series you won't be disappointed with this one. ( )
  gdill | May 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Connellyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Larsson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rusconi, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
All they did was trade one monster for another. Instead of a dragon they now have a snake. A giant snake that sleeps in the narrows and bides its time until the moment is right and it can open its jaws and swallow someone down.
-John Kinsey, father of a boy lost in the narrows. Los Angeles Times, July 21,1956
Dedication
In memory of Mary McEvoy Connelly Lavelle, who kept six of us out of the narrows
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I think maybe I only know one thing in this world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446699543, Paperback)

FBI agent Rachel Walling finally gets the call she's dreaded for years, the one that tells her the Poet has surfaced. She has never forgotten the serial killer who wove lines of poetry in his hideous crimes--and apparently he has not forgotten her.
Former LAPD detective Harry Bosch gets a call, too--from the widow of an old friend. Her husband's death seems natural, but his ties to the hunt for the Poet make Bosch dig deep. Arriving at a derelict spot in the California desert where the feds are unearthing bodies, Bosch joins forces with Rachel. Now the two are at odds with the FBI...and squarely in the path of the Poet, who will lead them on a wicked ride out of the heat, through the narrows of evil, and into a darkness all his own...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When an infamous serial killer known as the Poet reemerges, FBI agent Rachel Walling, long haunted by her unsuccessful efforts to bring him to justice, receives assistance from LAPD detective Harry Bosch.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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