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The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

The Black Echo (1992)

by Michael Connelly, Michael Connelly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Harry Bosch (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,290861,659 (3.88)191
  1. 21
    The Lion by Nelson DeMille (Scottneumann)
  2. 00
    Night Dogs by Kent Anderson (Littlemissbashful)
    Littlemissbashful: Both feature ex Vietnam vets turned cop and corrupt police departments. The demons are the same but the response is different.
  3. 03
    Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (raizel)
    raizel: slight spoiler: both books have someone trying to do what is just and not succeeding

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English (80)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (86)
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[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]


Harry Bosch, a former all-star in the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, now demoted to Hollywood Division, is called to investigate a dead body one morning, only to discover it’s a man he knew from his soldier days in Vietnam. While everyone initially believes the man simply overdosed on heroin, Harry sees signs of foul play, and as he starts looking into the man’s life after the war, he gets wrapped up in a twisted and complex crime.

Harry ends up connecting the dead man, Meadows, to a bank robbery that took place the previous year — the man pawned a bracelet stolen from one of the safety deposit boxes. Harry believes he was killed for pawning it because his colleagues in crime didn’t want any of the stolen property showing up on the streets.

Partnering with Eleanor Wish of the FBI, Harry unravels the series of events that led to Meadows’ demise. Unfortunately, this almost costs him his life.

It turns out that his old brother at arms was working in Saigon to distribute heroin under the command of three Vietnamese police officers. When Saigon fell, two of those officers took the millions they’d made at the drug trade — in the form of diamonds — and fled to the US. Meadows returned with them, knowing what they carried.

Years later, several other corrupt former soldiers and Meadows got together and hatched a plan to steal the diamonds. Three of the men, including Meadows, were already criminals and had served time for various crimes. The last man turns out to be an FBI agent, Rourke, who happens to be part of the investigation of the bank robbery. He uses his power to continually derail the investigation until Harry figures him out.

It all comes down to the second stash of diamonds. Rourke’s two men dig a tunnel beneath the second vault, but because Harry figured out the location of the diamonds and warned the second Vietnamese man, the safety deposit box with the diamonds inside is already empty when the two men reach the vault. Tragically, two internal affairs cops with a grudge against Harry storm the vault when the thieves arrive and get shot to death.

Harry has no choice but to follow the thieves into the tunnels and chase them down with no backup because Rourke rerouted all their aid to the wrong places. He manages to take down one the men but gets shot in the shoulder by the second. Rourke then shows up, kills the second man, and threatens to kill Bosch. Before he can, Eleanor Wish appears and kills him.

In the hospital, Harry has to deal with the fallout from the botched bank robbery and the scandal both the FBI and LAPD are facing. Naturally, both organizations try to cover everything up. Harry decides to stay on with the LAPD, even though he could retire after being badly wounded in the line of duty.

As the story winds to a close, Harry realizes a few things don’t add up, and he confronts Eleanor Wish for the truth. It turns out that Eleanor’s brother was involved in the heroin trade between Vietnam and the US, and Rourke’s men killed him when he tried to sell a batch without permission. So Wish purposefully transferred to Rourke’s team and convinced him to steal the diamonds. The plan was that she would take all the diamonds and leave Rourke and his cohorts empty-handed and defeated as vengeance for her brother’s death.

Harry, feeling betrayed, tells Eleanor she has two days to turn herself in, or he’ll inform the two former Saigon policemen that she was involved in an attempt to steal their precious diamonds. Wish understandably turns herself in.

The End.


My Take

This book took me a while to get into. I think the beginning was a little slow, but I can overlook that given the quality of the book as a whole.

Obviously, Connelly has been hugely successful with Harry Bosch (see: the number of books in the series), and I can understand why. The plot is excellent. The pacing is fast but not too fast. There’s plenty of action mixed in with important character development scenes and world-building. I can’t point out a single thing wrong with the plot of this book — it’s tight. Everything makes sense. There are no loose ends. The book has a tense climax and really good falling action. It doesn’t just drop off and end suddenly. It’s a gradual and interesting decline to a conclusion that promises the possibility for good future sequels.

I didn’t find anything especially fresh and new in Connelly’s voice or POV, although I thought his dialogue was excellent. Lots of realistic slang and accents. It gave you the sense that the setting was genuine. I’ve never been to LA, but I could picture it and its people perfectly thanks to Connelly’s descriptions and dialogue.

So, pretty good on all fronts.



Nothing special. Third person past. No chapters — just long “Parts” with lots of scene breaks. Works for me.


Is It Worth Reading?

If you like mystery/thriller/police procedurals or anything similar, you’ll probably like this book. If not, maybe give it a chance anyway? It’s not a quick read, by any means, but it is a satisfying one.



4/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly; (4*)

A mystery/police procedural with a distinctive 'noirish' twist to it. The first of the Harry Bosch series, I found it to be both enjoyable and frightening.
A body has been found in a reservoir pipe in Los Angeles (Harry's precinct area) and he recognizes the man as someone with whom he served in Nam. As Harry works the case he finds that he is not only fighting the clock to close the case but also fighting some of those within the internal 'blue line'.
Well done, Connelly. You have drawn me into your grasp. ( )
  rainpebble | Oct 19, 2015 |
Until about fifteen years ago I used to devour American crime novels, rushing through one after another with a fairly voracious appetite. But then something happened. I don't know what - I wish I did - but suddenly I found it very difficult ever to complete one.

I was, then, pleasantly surprised by 'The Black Echo', the first novel to feature Harry 'Hieronymous' Bosch, jaded homicide detective and Vietnam War veteran. Called to the site of a mysterious death, Bosch recognises the corpse as someone with whom he served in Vietnam, some twenty years previously. The body had been found in a reservoir overflow pipe near the Mulholland Dam, and the initial diagnosis suggests that this is merely another instance of a dysfunctional Vietnam veteran meeting their death through drug addiction.

Bosch could so easily have been a disastrously clichéd character himself. Having been discharged form the army he had entered LAPD and gradually risen to the Homicide Team. As the novel opens, though, we start to learn that his career has had as many downs as ups. He had been instrumental in capturing a serial killer, which had led to a local TV station paying him a fee to use his name for a sensationalist series, but his fatal shooting of a criminal in another incident had led to him being investigated at length by Internal Affairs. All this sounds rather familiar - just another disgruntled, unorthodox detective. Connelly does, however, succeed in retaining Bosch's credibility.

This novel also strays across different genres - while Bosch's unconventional thought processes drives the investigation forward, the book also falls soundly into police procedural territory. Yet Connelly also offers a frightening insight into the work of many of the American troops in Vietnam who literally fought underground. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army used hundreds of miles of tunnels through the combat zones, and teams of American troops would be sent down to try to destroy them, often finding themselves in horrific combat beneath the ground. Connelly marshalls all of this with great dexterity, all the more remarkable as this was his first novel.

I shall definitely be looking forward to reading more about Hieronymous Bosch.
( )
  Eyejaybee | Sep 24, 2015 |
I got this from a free offer on Amazon. I enjoyed a quick read, the writing is fluent and the plot keeps moving. The book is showing it's age somewhat, the hero's military service in Vietnam pinning the action into the 1980s. Clichés abound - Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch is the archetypical lonely man, son of a murdered hooker, institutionalised by child care, the army and LAPD and relating to the lone man in Hopper's Nighthawks. Is he going to find love and security with his new female work partner? Is he, hell!. Due to some handy media money he has bought himself a cantilevered house in the Hollywood Hills with a balcony looking out over the studios and the smog. His boss in Hollywood homicide doesn't really trust him and the Internal Affairs guys are still trying to get him. He really needs his cigarettes and it just starting to feel the force of the anti-smoking movement.

The plot revolves around a previous bank raid in which the 'perps' had drilled their way into the vault from below over a holiday weekend - I read the book a few days after a strongroom break-in in London's Hatton Garden with much the same m.o., the news media having many pictures of the hole they drilled. The tunnelling was related to interesting history of the Viet Cong fighting tunnels in Vietnam. ( )
  abbottthomas | May 17, 2015 |
I loved the Amazon Instant Video series, so I sought out the first of this LA procedural. It's good on insider acronyms and police slang (one imagines!), but the plot is slow to get moving and the author has the proverbial cloth ear for dialogue. One might even suggest that he can't actually write for toffee, were it not for the somewhat inconvenient fact that he's a multi-squillionaire writer. Annoyingly. ( )
  jtck121166 | May 16, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
Big, brooding debut police thriller by Los Angeles Times crime-reporter Connelly, whose labyrinthine tale of a cop tracking vicious bank-robbers sparks and smolders but never quite catches fire. Swift and sure, with sharp characterizations, but at heart really a tightly wrapped package of cop-thriller cliches, from the hero's Dirty Harry persona to the venal brass, the mad-dog IAD cops, and the not-so-surprising villains. Still, Connelly knows his turf and perhaps he'll map it more freshly next time out.
added by Roycrofter | editKirkus Reviews (Nov 1, 1991)
Harry Bosch, detective de la policía de Los Ángeles quedó marcado por la dura experiencia de Vietnam. Ahora, un caso le devuelve su pasado. La víctima, Billy Meadows, había servido en su misma unidad. Ambos eran ratas de túnel que combatían en la red de pasajes subterráneos del Viet Cong; ambos experimentaron el terror del eco negro: la reverberación en las tinieblas de su propio pánico. Ahora Meadows está muerto. Pero su rastro parece apuntar a un gran atraco bancario perpetrado a través de túneles de alcantarillado.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Connellyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Connelly, Michaelmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Pasetti, Maria ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is for W. Michael Connelly and Mary McEvoy Connelly
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The boy couldn't see in the dark, but he didn't need to.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
LAPD detective Harry Bosch is a loner and a nighthawk. One Sunday he gets a call out on his pager. A body has been found in a drainage tunnel off Mulholland Drive, Hollywood. At first sight, it looks like a routine drugs overdose case, but the one new puncture wound amidst the scars of old tracks leaves Bosch unconvinced. To make matters worse, Harry Bosch recognises the victim. Billy Meadows was a fellow 'tunnel rat' in Vietnam, running against the VC and the fear they all used to call the Black Echo. Bosch believes he let down Billy Meadows once before, so now he is determined to bring the killer to justice
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446612731, Mass Market Paperback)

For maverick Lapd homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal...because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:29 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The very first Harry Bosch novel, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, is available once more. A body discovered in a drainpipe on Mulholland Drive turns out to be a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought by the side of the maverick LAPD homicide detective. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of 'Nam while on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.… (more)

» see all 15 descriptions

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